Yisrael Beiteinu: Not Too Late for Peretz to Resign From Government

Defense Minister says letting Lieberman join gov't was a 'big blunder,' Labor should have quit coalition instead.

In reaction to Saturday statements by Defense Minister Amir Peretz that Labor should have withdrawn from the coalition after Avigdor Lieberman, Yisrael Beiteinu issued a statement early on Sunday saying it is not too late for Peretz to "correct his mistake" and resign, Army Radio reported.

The Yisrael Beiteinu statement was quoted by Army Radio as further criticizing Peretz, saying, "Time after time Peretz has proven that the primaries within his party, rather than the country's security, is at the top of his priorities."

Peretz on Saturday said allowing rightwing party Yisrael Beiteinu to join the coalition was the biggest mistake he made as leader of the Labor Party.

During a talk with party members, Peretz said he should have opposed Avigdor Lieberman's party from joining the government even if it would have brought about Labor's withdrawal from the coalition.

"I made a big mistake and I shouldn't have allowed Lieberman join the government," Peretz said. "I regret that political move. Even if it would have led to a crisis, I should have acted differently and not listened to other ministers."

Labor MK Ophir Pines-Paz, who is running for the post of party chairman in the upcoming Labor primaries, also criticized Peretz saying, "Amir Peretz has fully revealed himself in the Lieberman affair."

Army Radio further quoted Pines-Paz as saying Peretz "flip-flopped and bargained, proved himself to lack leadership skills and a plan."

Pines-Paz called on Peretz to resign as Labor chairman, Army Radio reported.

Over the past few weeks Peretz has admitted making a number of mistakes as Labor Party Chairman, such as giving up the Ministry of Finance in favor of the Minister of Defense.

He recently pledged he would step down as Defense Minister and ask for the finance ministry portfolio if he were re-elected party head.