- The Washington Times - Monday, July 12, 2010

A senior figure in Israel’s Labor Party said Monday evening that his party would leave Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in a matter of months if there is not serious progress toward a final-status agreement with the Palestinians.

“We expect the prime minister to move forward,” said Avishay Braverman, one of five ministers from the center-left party, during a small briefing with reporters in Washington. “I cannot imagine that if there is no movement on the peace process that is serious, that the Labor Party will stay in the government.”

Asked if he was giving Netanyahu a deadline, the minister pointed to 2010. “If things don’t move before that,” he said, “I see a problem.”

Following renewed speculation in the Israeli press last week that Netanyahu was seeking to lure the centrist Kadima Party into his coalition, Mr. Braverman made clear that he saw no point in Labor serving as a left-wing fig leaf for the Likud-led government if the smaller right-wing parties in the coalition dragged their feet on the peace process.

“My position on the coalition is very clear,” he said. “We should do direct negotiations on the core issues … it’s not anymore about minor details. I’ve believed that for a long time. And, if for some reason, certain members of the coalition are not willing to accept that, then we have to call in other parties like Kadima.”

“We have a couple of months,” said Braverman in an apparent reference to Israel’s West Bank settlement freeze, which expires in September. “From here, I don’t care any more about declarations. The deeds, history will judge. And I’m speaking as a minister of the government … The Labor Party came to support the peace process.”