PM aides: Olmert doesn't plan to renegotiate the coalition
Olmert meets new Labor Party chairman Ehud Barak to discuss developments in Gaza Strip.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has no intention of renegotiating the coalition agreement with the Labor Party, his associates said Thursday, ahead of Olmert's meeting with the new Labor Party chairman, Ehud Barak, on Friday.
Olmert and Barak were discussing the Palestinian clashes in the Gaza Strip, Israel Radio reported.
The aides said that according to the coalition agreement, the defense portfolio is earmarked for Labor's leader. In addition, Labor is allowed another minister, to replace MK Eitan Cabel, who resigned.
These are internal Labor affairs and we don't intend to interfere in them," a source close to Olmert said.
Today's meeting is slated to be an update on security and state affairs following the developments in the Gaza Strip. Olmert and Barak are also expected to discuss political issues related to Barak's entering the Defense Ministry.
Olmert will meet Barak again at the end of next week, after his return from the United States. Upon returning, the prime minister also plans to appoint a finance minister and a Negev and Galilee development minister, to replace Shimon Peres. Both these portfolios are expected to remain in Kadima's hands.
Barak's associates predicted that outgoing Defense Minister Amir Peretz will take Cabel's place as the additional Labor minister.
Barak and Peretz met Thursday, for the first time in 18 months. At the end of the hour-long meeting at Labor's headquarters, the two issued a joint statement to the effect that they had discussed past differences and had agreed to cooperate "for the party's unity."
Relations between Barak and Peretz had been tense since the previous Labor primary, when Barak accused Peretz of "forcing" people to register as Labor members and support him.
Peretz's aides said he wanted to cooperate with Barak, but that he would continue to strengthen the social faction within Labor at the same time.
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