Senior Labor Party Officials Slam Barak for Continuing Coalition Talks

Anti-Barak alliance headed by MKs Peretz, Yachimovich, Pines-Paz and Cabel, emerges in Labor Party.

Senior Labor officials harshly criticized party chairman Ehud Barak for continuing coalition negotiations with Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu.

"Ehud Barak is a man who knows no boundaries," one senior official told Haaretz. "He is desperately trying to get into Netanyahu's government and it doesn't matter to him whether Daniel Friedmann is justice minister or not. He needs to stop negotiating with Netanyahu and announce he is taking Labor to the opposition."

Barak had conditioned his entry into the coalition on Friedmann being replaced. Friedmann, a Kadima nominee, has announced he plans to reform the justice system, and is backed by Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party.

Friedmann's proposals have irked some of Israel's most prominent judicial figures, who have called him a threat to the system and the rule of law.

Over the past few days, an anti-Barak alliance has emerged in the Labor Party, headed by MKs Amir Peretz, Shelly Yachimovich, Ophir Pines-Paz and Eitan Cabel. They oppose Barak's negotiations.

Barak, for his part, has stated he will not heed their demands and will continue negotiating with Netanyahu, adding that if he receives a good offer, he will bring it up for approval by the Labor Party Central Committee.

"There's no offer on the table as of yet," sources close to Barak said. "Should there be an offer, and if it is worthy, it will be brought for approval by the party's relevant instances. But the party must not be ruled by censorship."

Some 200 Labor members attended a party convention in Ramat Efal Thursday. The organizers called the meeting "an emergency gathering to block Barak's plans to enter the government." The event was attended mostly by members from the kibbutzim and the Tel Aviv district.

Participants included Education Minister Yuli Tamir, Pines-Paz, Cabel and Daniel Ben Simon. Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog did not attend, but he sent a letter stating he supported putting Labor in the opposition.

"After Netanyahu and Lieberman settled the future government's guidelines for regional talks, which focus on toppling Hamas' regime and refusing to commit Israel to a two-state solution, Labor has no reason to stay on," Tamir said at the event. "The guidelines of this government contradict those of Labor."