Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

15 Cheshvan 5766 - November 16, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Labor Ministers Give Peretz Signed Resignations

by M Plaut and Yated Ne'eman Staff

To consolidate his hold over the Labor Party and to give himself a stronger bargaining position with prime minister Sharon, Amir Peretz, leader of the Labor Party since last Thursday, has insisted that all the current ministers of the Labor party give him signed letters of resignation.

Peretz is supposed to meet with Sharon. His intent in the meeting is to reach an agreed-upon date for dissolving the current government and holding early elections. Sharon has not publicly said anything about holding early elections, and he is in no hurry to hold any such meeting. Peretz said he would submit them to Sharon and allow them to take effect when the time was right.

The move was intended to preempt a possible decision by Sharon to fire the ministers and to prevent Sharon from dividing them by negotiating with those who want to remain in the government.

In a meeting with the Labor faction on Tuesday, Peretz will recommend voting against National Religious Party leader Zevulun Orlev's proposal to dissolve the Knesset when it comes to a vote on Wednesday. Peretz will meet with Orlev before the faction meeting and ask him to postpone submitting the bill for a week because, if it does not pass, a Knesset dispersal bill would not be allowed to be raised for six more months.

The Labor central committee will convene on Sunday to approve leaving the government.

Sources close to Sharon responded to Peretz's move by accusing him of scaring the Labor ministers into signing the forms against their will. The sources said that Sharon would not fire the ministers and that as long as Labor did not vote to topple the government, the prime minister would not make any political moves ahead of Thursday's meeting with Peretz.

Interior Minister Ophir Paz-Pines said that Peretz's move was a good idea, and Environment Minister Shalom Simhon said the resignation letters sent an important message.

"After the reports that we intend to rebel against Peretz, we decided to prove that we are united and that we are giving Peretz full support," Simhon said.

Peretz will met with opposition leader Yosef Lapid over breakfast on Tuesday morning. Peretz's spokesman said that Peretz would not eat any bacon if Lapid served it.

Despite the show of unity, there has been criticism of Peretz, both public and private. Labor leaders have said that Peretz' bombastic, headline-grabbing statements are more fitting for the head of the Histadrut than for the leader of a political party who has powerful colleagues and who is really no more than a first-among-equals and not the boss.

There was also criticism of the content of some of Peretz' statements. He has made strong comments about the need to raise the minimum wage — which were quickly criticized by the head of the Manufacturer's Association — as well as about the importance of continuing the Disengagement on the West Bank. Labor party members complained that these statements alienated potential supporters.


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