Party Rebels Threaten to Divorce 'That Chutzpan'

Labor Party chairman Ehud Barak's call to close ranks was greeted with snickering by the party rebels who boycotted yesterday's party convention. The four rebels had conferred among themselves and decided to meet last Sunday to begin planning their exit and the establishment of a new movement.

They say the process will not take long. "I am ready to unite at any moment," MK Amir Peretz said ironically after Barak's plea. "Just tell me for what. If it is to serve Bibi [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu], then no thank you. There is no reason to put air into an artificial spare tire, which ultimately will only serve Bibi and his worldview."

Speaking to Haaretz yesterday, Peretz seemed at peace with the decision to part ways with the Labor Party. He accused Barak of destroying the party and called Barak a "chutzpan" [insolent person] for accusing the rebels of character assassination.

"Character assassination of someone who has crossed all red lines is chutzpah," Peretz said. "He destroyed the house from its foundations. He is a megalomaniac only interested in himself. There is no way to explain the gap between the inflated self-importance he goes around with and his public image as someone who cannot be trusted."

Peretz said that "from the standpoint of most of the members, it is absolutely the beginning of the final separation in a final divorce. We have gone another step from a separation in which we live in the same house to a separation in which we live in separate houses. In the end, there will be a third stage in which the separation will get legal status."

Peretz added that "from now on, we won't take part in any 'fixed match' of any party institution, and we have no intention to waste energy on insignificant disputes."

MK Eitan Cabel, who was on military reserve duty at the time of the convention, called the Braverman-Herzog issue pathetic. "There is no chance," he said, "that the elections will be held as scheduled, so why cheat ourselves?" Cabel claimed that the convention vote was predetermined. "Half of the people weren't members of the convention," he said.