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Renowned Israeli author Amos Oz on Monday scathingly criticized Labor Chairman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak for inaction in the face of settler violence.

"What kind of leader is he who allowed the hill top youth to wreak havoc on Arabs and Israel Defense Forces soldiers?" Oz asked, referring to settler youths who commit acts of violence or vandalism against Palestinians or their property.

The writer is one of a number of intellectuals and public figures who have lent support to the new left-wing party modeled after Meretz that was launched recently.

Oz also said, "What kind of leader is he who over the course of two years as defense minister didn't remove even one outpost? ... What kind of a leader is he who offers himself as a junior partner in [Likud chairman leader Benjamin] Netanyahu's coalition?"

Labor issued a quick response to Oz's comments, blasting them as "hallucinatory" and as testifying to Meretz's lack of relevancy.

"If Oz and his friends still had a shred of intellectual integrity, they also would be standing up beside Barak because it is actually he who today is forced to block with his own body the tongue lashings of Kadima and Likud extremists," the party said.