Likud Says Barak Resignation will Help National Unity Government
The right-wing Likud party said on Wednesday that outgoing premier Ehud Barak's resignation announcement would help efforts to create a national unity government, said AFP.
"We don't interfere in internal affairs of the Labor party and Mr. Barak was Sharon's preferred candidate for the defense portfolio, but we hope that his resignation will help the creation of a national unity government," Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon's spokesman, Raanan Gissin, was quoted by the agency as saying.
Barak announced Tuesday he was quitting as Labor chairman and that he would not serve as defense minister in a unity government under the Likud leader.
A close political associate of Ehud Barak, meanwhile, said Wednesday that pro-Barak forces would "make every effort" to block the party from joining a national unity government headed by Sharon, reported Haaretz newspaper in its internet edition.
“If the Labor party central committee slated to meet Monday overrides opposition to the unity government, Barak loyalists will take retributive efforts aimed at keeping party leaders who injured Barak very, very seriously from realizing their goals of becoming ministers in the new government,” MK Weizman Shiri was quoted by the paper as telling Israel Radio.
Shiri said he had supported the unity government bid as long as the coalition was to include Barak as defense minister.
But Haim Ramon, another Labor member and one of Barak's most implacable rivals, delivered a blistering attack on the Barak Tuesday, said The Jerusalem Post newspaper.
"I don't believe anything he says, even when he makes ostensibly factual reports," Ramon was quoted as telling Israel’s Channel One TV Tuesday night.
Ramon accused Barak of deliberately misrepresenting the tenor of the coalition negotiations in his reports to the Labor party leadership.
Meanwhile, Palestinian President Yasser Arafat’s aide, Nabil Abu Rdeineh told AFP that the political "chaos" caused by Barak's resignation as Labor party leader is detrimental to the peace process.
"The political chaos in Israel is harmful to the peace process but our main concern is to see a government that is committed to continue the path of negotiations where they left off," said Abu Rudeina.
"We are waiting to see what kind of government will be formed in Israel before making any judgment," he told AFP – Albawaba.com
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