Barak: Labor Ministers Will Vote Against Government Budget Cuts

Labor ministers to finalize position on proposed NIS 1.3 billion cross-ministerial cuts Sunday morning.

Haaretz Service
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Defense Minister and Labor Chairman Ehud Barak said Saturday evening that the Labor ministers will vote against the proposed cross-ministerial budget cuts on Sunday.

"In light of the summer's security events, the budget must not be cut," Barak said during a Labor Party conference in Nazareth.

The Labor ministers are scheduled to finalize their position during a party meeting Sunday morning.

The vote over the NIS 1.3 billion cut was postponed by two weeks at the Labor's request. The cuts are necessary in order to finance supplements to the defense and education budgets.

Vilnai: Labor mustn't quit gov't even if PM stays after probe Labor must stay in the government, even if Prime Minister Ehud Olmert does not resign when the full Winograd committee report into the Second Lebanon War is released, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai told Israel Radio on Saturday.

Vilnai replaced Ephraim Sneh as deputy defense minister under newly-elected Labor Chair Ehud Barak.

Barak had previously said that when the Winograd Committee's full report came out, its harshness should lead the prime minister to his own 'personal conclusions,' and should prompt him to resign.

Barak suggested Olmert follow in the footsteps of former Chief of Staff Dan Halutz and former Defense Minister Amir Peretz, both of whom resigned in light of the harshness of the Winograd Committee's interim report, published April 30.

In his interview on Israel Radio, Vilnai added that Israel should not engage in negotiations with Hamas since the organization's violent takeover of the Gaza Strip last month.

He said despite Israel's responsibility to provide food to one million people Hamas controls, it would only communicate with groups who share Israel's viewpoint.

Dozens demonstrate against Barak visit in Nazareth Dozens of people demonstrated against a visit by Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Nazareth late Saturday.

Barak, who is also Labor chairman, came for an assembly of Labor party activists. The defense minister left Nazareth at the meeting's end.

During the demonstration police arrested Hadash's General Secretary Ayman Auda, the brother of a man killed in the October 2000 riots, and one further demonstrator.

During the riots in 2000, which lasted for ten days, 13 Arab Israelis were killed in clashes with police. Barak served as Prime Minister at the time.

The demonstration was organized by representatives of Arab political parties, and relatives of those killed in the 2000 riots.

According to Hassan A'asalah whose son Asil was fatally shot by policemen: "The protest is against Barak's return to political life - to the Labor leadership and as defense minister."

"Families of the October 2000 martyrs warn according to experience from those events, Barak is endangering the Arab sector and the nature of relations with it," A'asalah added.

Hadash Chair MK Mohammed Barakeh blasted Auda's arrest and called for his immediate released. Barakeh blamed this on police aggression and said he was actually attacked by the police commander at the scene for no reason.

The Hadash Chair said he intended on requesting Attorney General Menachem Mazuz investigate the police's violent behavior.



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