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After Finance Minister Roni Bar-On savaged the banks for ostensibly suffocating the business sector while growing fat on interest spreads, he received an equally blistering barrage from labor leader Ofer Eini. "The finance minister must resign if no decision is made Sunday on a safety net for pensions," said Eini, chairman of the Histadrut labor federation, yesterday.

"Eini's lost his mind," Bar-On retorted.

The Histadrut yesterday canceled the general strike it had planned to launch today, so the people of the Land of Milk and Honey have been spared reeking piles of fly-blown garbage on sidewalks. But the union's retreat doesn't mean Eini is pleased with the way things are going. "The minister and his clerks are trying to undemocratically fudge the safety net plan," Eini said. "If the cabinet approves the plan and the finance minister tries to torpedo it, he should reach conclusions and resign, or it's anarchy."

He also said Bar-On's "ego problem" had become the main obstacle to resolving Israel's economic problems.

On Monday Shraga Brosh, the president of the Manufacturers Association, also called on Bar-On to step down, prompting Bar-On to say yesterday, "The voice is Eini's but the hands are Brosh's. I hear the secretary of the Histadrut telling me to quit and yesterday I heard his Siamese twin issue the same call."