- Obama’s regulatory agenda will cost U.S. economy $143B next year: report
- Patriot Act author on James Clapper: Fire, prosecute him
- Russia P.M. Medvedev: No amnesty for political prisoners
- Michigan GOP Senate hopeful reminds government is the ‘servant’
- Christmas, by Congress: Members mull a 15-cent tax on trees
- U.S. unemployment falls to five-year low of 7 percent; 203K jobs added
- World mourns Nelson Mandela and celebrates his life; burial set for Dec. 15
- Bill O’Reilly reminds: Nelson Mandela ‘was a communist’
- John Boehner says GOP should support gay candidates: ‘I do’
- Grass-Whopper: Pan-fried cricket burgers go over big in New York City
Stalled talks may kill Israel’s Labor Party
Question of the Day
TEL AVIV | The Israeli Labor Party, which led the Jewish state for its first 30 years, is in danger of unraveling amid frustration over the lack of progress in peace talks with the Palestinians, party members and political analysts say.
Labor’s former parliamentary whip, Daniel Ben Simon, suggested Sunday that he would support a breakaway group if efforts to restart peace talks remain deadlocked for the next few months. Israeli media outlets have reported that two Labor ministers may join the rebels.
“We have to make a serious decision about how long we want to stay in the government and under what circumstances,” said Colette Avital, a former Labor Party parliament member and former consul general in New York.
The threat to Labor comes as the Palestinian Authority appears in increasing disarray, with President Mahmoud Abbas vowing not to seek re-election next year.
A Labor split could undermine the stability of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and shift its policies further to the right, deepening the impasse with the Palestinians and dashing U.S. hopes to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
A splinter party “would shock the coalition of Benjamin Netanyahu in one way or another,” wrote Shalom Yerushalmi, a political commentator for the Maariv newspaper. The Labor Party leader, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, “doesn’t have a party,” Mr. Yerushalmi wrote.
Labor has been a counterweight in Mr. Netanyahu’s center-right government. The defense minister is credited with helping to persuade Mr. Netanyahu to support a Palestinian state and smoothing rocky ties with the Obama administration.
But the decision to join a government led by Mr. Netanyahu stirred bitter opposition within Labor. If negotiations with the Palestinians remain frozen, rebels are likely to persuade other Labor members to bolt the governing coalition.
“Barak believes he is doing a good job at moderating the position of the government,” Ms. Avital told The Washington Times. “But, I don’t think that this is the way that we are going to win elections.”
Mr. Barak has enjoyed an unexpectedly strong collaboration with Mr. Netanyahu, who was unseated as prime minister by Mr. Barak in elections 10 years ago. As defense minister, Mr. Barak is a prominent figure in the government, but his popularity is weak.
Under Mr. Barak’s leadership, Labor lost six seats in parliament in the last election and currently has 13 seats, a historic low for a party that ruled Israel from its founding in 1948 until 1977, and twice subsequently. It also led Israel through four wars against Arab neighbors.
Splits in major Israeli parties are not new. Kadima, currently the largest party in parliament, was founded in 2005 as a breakaway from Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud. But many say that a new fissure in Labor could mark the historic party’s final demise.
Ms. Avital noted that Labor has been in turmoil since Mr. Barak lost the prime minister job to Ariel Sharon in 2001. Labor has gone through five leaders and run up a debt of $40 million.
If Mr. Barak is willing to give up the defense ministry and pull Labor out of the governing coalition, Mr. Netanyahu could remain in power. But far-right and religious parties would be in a better position to threaten to topple the government if Mr. Netanyahu is seen as opposing their views.
“Before, no one party could threaten to bring down the coalition. Netanyahu had a wider coalition,” said Gideon Doron, a professor of political science at Tel Aviv University. But if Labor pulls out, “he will have a smaller cushion.”
About the Author
- Spike in battlefield deaths linked to restrictive rules of engagement
- Activists urge Obama to go rogue, sidestep Congress
- Colorado judge: Bakery owner discriminated against gay couple
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
- PRUDEN: British press horrified as London's new mayor dares to proclaim the truth
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Rush Limbaugh: Obama trying to make Mandela death about himself
- Obama administration issues permits for wind farms to kill more eagles
- Obamas call to close Vatican embassy is 'slap in the face' to Roman Catholics
- 'Hunger Games' delivers Obama's message on income inequality
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Get in the middle of all the action inside and outside the boxing ring.
Find the latest news and happening that effect those in the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland Metro region.
How does our 50th state view D.C. politics?
White House pets gone wild!