PressTV - Israel defense minister quits Labor party:
Tue Jan 18, 2011 6:35PM
Ibrahim Husseini, Press TV, al-Quds
"Israeli politics shifts more to the right after defense Minister Ehud Barak along with four allies, quit the Labor party to form a new faction.
Members of the labor party were totally caught by surprise with the split , as even the senior Ben Elizer who believed nothing would happen in the party without his say admitted by saying 'I didn't know about this; I had no idea.'
After this announcement Labor's remaining eight-member faction in parliament pulled its three cabinet members out of the cabinet.
Ehud Barak left Labor amid rising discontent in the party about its role as a partner in the right-wing coalition of premier Netanyahu. Some labor members had urged Barak to leave the coalition and one of them, Daniel Ben-Simon, quit the party in protest at his decision to remain in the cabinet.
His backing for the government's handling of the stalled direct talks was the main cause of complaint from labor members.
And as expected Barak was rewarded for his decision as four cabinet posts were given to the five -member breakaway faction. Barak retained his defense ministry post.
But there is a consensus among analysts and lawmakers that such a division will not lead to major changes in Israeli politics.
Analysts believe that the policies of the new cabinet towards the Palestinians and the so-called peace process will further lean towards the right , making it even more difficult to find a negotiated settlement to a crisis that has beset the region for many decades.
With Barak's allies, Netanyahu still controls 66 seats in the 120-member Knesset, a smaller but more stable majority.
Labor was the dominant political party in Israel for long years but it came first in 2009 elections with only 13 seats in the Knesset
By splitting from the labor party, Ehud Barak has secured his position as defense minister. The move will also prolong the life of the Israeli cabinet . Observers however do not predict a change in the stalled direct talks with the Palestinians but rather a continuation of the status quo
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