The Labor Party's Central Committee on Sunday evening voted in favor of staying in the coalition in a large majority and an open ballot.
The voting followed harsh exchange of words between the different speakers at the Dan Panorama Hotel in Tel Aviv.
Minister Eitan Cabel, the party's secretary-general, warned at the start of the that he will end it if it gets out of hand.
At the focus of the discussions at the Labor Party were two proposals: The first, which was okayed, was raised by ministers on behalf of Party Chairman Amir Peretz and called on the party to remain in the government "in order to promote social and diplomatic issues."
The second, which was proposed by Minister Ophir Pines-Paz and Knesset Member Danny Yatom, demanded that the party leaves the coalition.
Peretz backed by Central Committee (Photo: Ofer Amram)
Pines-Paz's speech was particularly harsh. The minister read part of a speech delivered by Israel Our Home Chairman Avigdor Lieberman in the Knesset several months ago. In the speech, Lieberman called to try the collaborators in the Knesset (Arab MKs) "like in Nuremberg."
Pines-Paz added: "I am product of the Labor Party, of the Labor Movement. This is my home since I joined the party when I was part of the Labor Youth, but this house is being buried before my eyes because of unreliability, because of deals, because of zigzags, because of lack of leadership."
"Unfortunately, we made many mistakes in the past few months. It started with the spin of the right-wing government, followed by a bad coalition agreement, through the favoring of security over social and economic issues, and through conceding basic benefits.
"I want to warn tonight of the one mistake, which will be the one mistake too many – and this is surrendering to Lieberman's dictations. This is the moment for self-examination," Pines-Paz added.
Pines-Paz is expected to announce Monday whether he plans to stay in the government or resign following the decision. Party officials estimated that in light of the speech he delivered at the Central Committee, he will have no choice but to resign.
Stage at Central Commitee (Photo: Ofer Amram)
Peretz reminded the meeting attendees that the Labor Party sat in the Sharon government with Lieberman and Gandhi. He added that he accepts criticism, but blasted: "What are these talks about fraud, about betrayal?"
"The kibbutzim district which decided to back the proposal is a district of traitors? The Haifa district which decided to back it is a district of traitors? I ask the members, Hebrew is full of words – let's pick the words that honor us."
MK Ami Ayalon explained why he is in favor of staying in the government.
"This is a moment in which the people of Israel expect us to take responsibility and not escape responsibility. I do not support Lieberman and do not admire his opinion. But we must support the lesser of two evils. Therefore, I see that there is no choice but to stay in the government," he said.