Barak to Meet Netanyahu Despite Labor Party Dissent

Labor chair signals he wishes to enter gov't; Livni seems to have convinced Kadima to sit in opposition.

Despite opposition within his own party, Labor chairman Ehud Barak is expected to meet Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu once more before the end of the week. Barak signaled to the members of the Labor Party's Knesset faction Monday that he wished to enter the government, ending the uncertainty shrouding the matter since the polls.

Several prominent Labor MKs - including Ophir Pines-Paz, Shelly Yachimovich and Amir Peretz - are strongly opposed to joining a Netanyahu government. Yachimovich told Barak that his ambiguity was misguided, and that "between political death in a right-wing coalition and a tough life in the opposition, we should go for the hard life."

Barak advised his critics not to engage in "illusions of grandeur. No one here is an institution in and of himself. We are all public delegates." He said the decision will be made by the party's official institutions. Barak denied approaching President Shimon Peres to intervene in the national unity government talks.

In the meantime, Yisrael Beiteinu's Avigdor Lieberman said Monday that he believed the rifts between the different coalition candidates were not great, and that a government could be presented "within the week." This ties in with Netanyahu's intended schedule to form a government, provided that it will be a narrow right-wing one. Lieberman also said he believed all sides will have to compromise on the issue of civil marriage.

Kadima head Tzipi Livni appears to have convinced the majority of Kadima MKs to head for the opposition, despite the dissent of the party's number 2, Shaul Mofaz. However, Kadima officials said Monday that while Livni undoubtedly succeeded in taking her party to the opposition, no one can guarantee unity in Kadima's ranks several months into the term.