"We have not lost our way even after Yitzhak (Rabin) passed on," Labor Chairman Ehud Barak said Thursday during a special faction meeting marking the 15th anniversary of the former prime minister's assassination.
Addressing calls within the party to quit the coalition, the defense minister said, "Peace and security are vital interests of the State of Israel. The chance to achieve them is the main reason behind our decision to be part of the government.
"If only we knew how to overcome our urges and to avoid the behind-the-scenes undermining that Yitzhak Rabin so frequently criticized. We do not excel at tolerance and mutual respect in the public dialogue, in the party dialogue and also in dialogue between individuals."
When Barak said, "I miss you, Yitzhak. Very much," some Labor members called out, "You miss him, but you are not following in his footsteps."
'Historic opportunity.' Barak during faction meeting (Photo: Mati Elmaliach)
Turning his attention to the stalled peace talks with the Palestinians, the chairman said, "The world has changed, and it is no longer willing to accept the fact that one nation rules another for more than 40 years. This is not the Zionist vision, and it certainly isn't Yitzhak's path.
"We have an historic opportunity, and all of my efforts are directed towards this," he said.
Barak aimed thinly-veiled criticism at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's policy vis-à-vis the Obama administration, saying "we must not give up on our vital interests, mainly security and our relations with the US."
The special Labor faction meeting was held amid growing tensions within the party. On Wednesday Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer called on the party to bring in a new chairman to replace Barak, while Histadrut Labor Federation chairman Ofer Eini said he would not support extending Barak's term.
During Thursday's meeting, Barak said, "It is a pity that in the peace camp, we don't know how to join together and avoid backstabbing (each other)."
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