Barak: Primary Results Show Labor Is Not Afraid of Sitting in the Opposition

Labor is not afraid of the opposition benches - this was the message revealed by the party primary, Labor Party chairman Ehud Barak said. At a party meeting at the Tel Aviv exhibition grounds Friday morning, Barak said: "If this is what the voter wants, we'll lead the party resolutely from the opposition."

The top 10 Laborites are: Barak, Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog, MKs Ophir Pines-Paz, Avishay Braverman, Shelly Yachimovich, deputy minister Matan Vilnai, MK Eitan Cabel, Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, Education Minister Yuli Tamir and MK Amir Peretz. The 11th slot went to former Haaretz journalist Daniel Ben Simon.

Ben-Eliezer confirmed Barak's statement when he told the audience at a community center event yesterday: "We'll only sit [in the government] with a party that talks about security and security in social affairs - I don't think that means Likud."

Only a few weeks ago, Pines-Paz was holding talks with the new left party. Braverman surprised pundits by coming in third, and Yachimovich officially became the top-ranking woman in the party, replacing Tamir. Braverman and Yachimovich, who were drafted to Labor by MK Amir Peretz when he was party chairman as part of his social affairs focus, proved their attraction to party members.

Labor will unveil its campaign platform for the national elections this week, focusing on the high quality of its list and its call on voters to return to the party. Barak is also expected to complete staffing for campaign headquarters soon.

The party chairman is being pressured to dismiss party secretary-general MK Eitan Cabel because of the computer failure, as a result of which Labor had to call off voting Tuesday and reschedule.

The primary revealed a fall from the grace of the top spots by Ami Ayalon, who has left political life as a result, and of Amir Peretz, who took the party three years ago by storm. Although she is 9th in the list of the top 10, Tamir, a Peretz supporter, has paid a heavy political and public price during her tenure as education minister.

As for Peretz, the results of the primaries show he does not have the large backing he craved following his defeat in the election for party chairman. Among his close supporters, MK Yoram Marciano, who was with him through thick and thin, dropped to 17th place, an unrealistic position in terms of the list's chances.

Peretz's loss of popularity is said to be the lingering effect of his role in the Second Lebanon War and of his conflicts with Barak, as well as a long-standing feud with Histadrut labor federation chairman Ofer Eini.