Israeli Labor party MK Benjamin Ben-Eliezer would try Wednesday morning to persuade party leader Shimon Peres to accept a compromise with Labor rebels to ensure party unity.
Criticisms against Peres mounted after he refused to dismantle the coalition talks team and presented himself as the party candidate for the Prime Minister position in the coming elections.
Labor rebels demanded the immediate dismantle of the negotiations team after the Likud central committee voted against LaborÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s joining the cabinet. As well, they demanded party leader to set in motion plans for primaries to choose a new Labor leader.
Peres continued efforts to win the support of more LaborÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s executive committee members and at the same time are preparing a compromise proposal to lower the tension between him and party rebels.
The compromise proposal, presented by MKs Ben-Eliezer, Matan Vilnai, Ephraim Sneh, Ophir Pines-Paz and Avraham Shochat, calls for dismantling the negotiations team, which ‘has completed its job,’ and assuring that ‘Labor will support disengagement unconditionally from the opposition.’
As well, the proposal calls for the partyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s executive committee to re-examine the issue again if Prime Minister Ariel Sharon – backed up by his Likud party – approaches the Labor Party with a proposal for a unity government.
Also, the proposal request for steps to be taken ‘to advance the elections and prepare for them,’ meaning prepare for primaries.
Peres is facing similar difficulties to those Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon faced with Likud rebels. Labor rebels are angered, getting organized, and working to challenge his leadership.
Many called for Labor to present itself to the public as an alternative to SharonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s cabinet, instead of sitting at the wall waiting for SharonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s call.
Labor rebels held their first coordination meeting on Sunday. Many of the prominent labor MKs are expected to attend the meeting, including Matan Vilnai. Avraham Shochat, Ophir Pines-Paz, Yuli Tamir, Eitan Cabel, Danny Yatom and Ephraim Sneh.
Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, who resigned from Labor’s negotiating team last week, will not be present, but is joining a rally against joining the cabinet, sponsored by a newly established group called ‘The Real Labor.’
Yet, Peres still enjoy the support of MKs Haim Ramon and Amram Mitzna. Both share PeresÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ view that labor should not be held responsible for the failure of Sharon’s disengagement plan.
The ‘rebels’ are also calling for Labor’s bureau and faction to meet to vote on dismantling the coalition talkÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s team. On Friday, Pines-Paz sent Peres a letter signed by 80 bureau members demanding a meeting.
Several MKs expressed frustration with the party leader.
‘We gave him a lot of credit for coming to rehabilitate the party, and instead, he stole it and is using it to realize his pathetic ambition,’ said one.
‘He took the party prisoner and is using it cynically. If disengagement is so important, why he wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t give up the Foreign Ministry?’ said another.
On Thursday, Peres rejected mounting demands to dismantle Labor’s coalition negotiating team, and made it clear that he sees himself as a candidate for prime minister.
But, Labor MK Pines-Paz responded: ‘One can’t threaten elections without disbanding the negotiating team; words have to be accompanied by deeds.’
Vilnai and Shochat confirmed their desire to run for the position of Labor candidate for prime minister.
Practically, laborÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s call for early elections can only have an impact if joined by Shinui party.
Labor MK Dalia Itziq called upon Peres and Shinui leader Yousif Lapid to meet and jointly call for early elections.