The four harshly criticized Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who split from the party on Monday and established a new faction with four other MKs, while praising Opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni.
"This is one of the most important days in the State of Israel's political and democratic system," Peretz told a special press conference. "I have no plans to elaborate on Ehud Barak's ability to sacrifice all the democratic values and his disregard for Israel's citizens. Israel's sick are lying in the hallways while they sanctify the coalition."
He did not spare his criticism of the defense minister. "We have yet to have a chairman who has caused so much damage… We have waited for this moment, but have decided to give another chance. There are no and were no negotiations with another party. Livni has proven resistance in the opposition," Peretz said.
He added that the four MKs would meet with the remaining faction members and try to rehabilitate the Labor Party.
"We will hold these discussions immediately with the hopes of finding a common basis to work together. We are the new Labor, and we hope the existing Labor will accept the rules of the new Labor. The State of Israel needs a reliable social-democratic party, and I hope we'll be able to do it together."
Cabel (R), Peretz, Ben-Simon and Majadele (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
MK Ben-Simon, who was the first to try to split from the party, said that he "praises the decision to give a chance to joining forces as one faction and giving hope to the camp that has been orphaned. We are embarking on a new road as eight MKs, and it should be clear that we'll be doing everything for this move to succeed. Today's decision is correct and wise."
'Barak tried to destroy party'
MK Cabel welcomed the developments as well. "We have just emerged from one of the worst earthquakes the Labor Party has experienced. This means only one thing: That we're starting from the beginning, and this is something everyone must understand."
MK Majadele said that Labor was turning over a new leaf. "All the jobs, all the committees – everything Barak did in order to destroy the party – are invalid as far as we are concerned. We'll make a real and sincere effort to work together, and if we fail we'll convene to decide on our future."
Earlier, MK Majadele slammed the coalition agreement signed between the Likud and Barak's Independence faction, which would see Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai appointed as the minister responsible for the home front and minorities.
"This matches the foolish policy of the Lieberman-Netanyahu-Barak trio," he said.
Meretz Chairman Chaim Oron criticized the coalition agreement as well, referring to it as "a corrupt and destructive agreement, which makes the public view loathe politics. There is no more practical, blatant and cynical a translation to the term 'buying power with money' than in this agreement."
According to Gafni, "There are changes in the coalition, and following the developments we want the agreements open. This is not about jobs but about the principles of our friendship in the coalition."
Likud officials clarified, however, that they had no plans to open any coalition agreement with any party.
Roni Sofer contributed to this report
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