Is coalition shakeup in the works? Officials close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as senior government ministers, are increasingly estimating that the Labor party will be quitting the coalition within a few months over the impasse in peace talks.
A senior rightist minister told Ynet late Monday that the next elections will likely be held early, in the beginning of 2012.
Officials associated with Netanyahu, who is greatly bothered by the instability amongLabor party ranks, estimate that Labor will be quitting the coalition around March or April. In this case, Netanyahu will still be able to maintain a narrow 61-member government, possibly with the outside support of National Union.
Meanwhile, tensions within Labor reached new heights Monday, with Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog harshly criticizing party chairman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Herzog vowed to "dismantle the party" should he be not allowed to speak out.
"I told Barak that we need to present the poverty issue in the government and quit because of it," Herzog said. "We are in a process of leaving the government…Barak holds most responsibility for the state of the party."
Senior coalition members estimate that both Herzog and Minister Avishay Braverman reached the conclusion that in order for them to overcome Barak, Labor must quit the government, as Barak's role as defense minister allows him to overshadow other party members.
Earlier, Labor's Binyamin Ben-Eliezer demanded that the party present PM Netanyahu with an ultimatum to quit the government by April, should no progress be made on the peace front.
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