Labour Party Barak vows to topple Olmert

One of two candidates for leadership of Israel's coalition Labour Party said that if elected in primaries next week, he would act to topple Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government within months.

Labour Party Barak vows to topple Olmert
One of two candidates for leadership of Israel's coalition Labour Party said Wednesday that if elected in primaries next week, he would act to topple Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government within months.

'Olmert must draw personal conclusions and resign,' Ehud Barak, a former premier and army chief of staff, told a news conference in Tel Aviv.

Barak was referring to an April 30 interim report which harshly criticized Olmert's management of last summer's war against Hezbollah.

If Olmert did not do so until publication of a final report by the so-called Winograd commission of inquiry sometime this summer, 'we will have to end the partnership with Olmert and act for the establishment of a new government in the current Knesset (parliament), or alternatively act to determine a date for elections,' he said.

Barak faces off political newcomer Ami Ayalon in a second round of Labour Party primaries next Tuesday. He said he would seek backing by the party's Central Committee soon after being chosen.

In a first round held early last week, Barak received nearly 36 per cent of the vote against under 31 for Ayalon, but neither reached the minimum 40 per cent needed.

Three other candidates - current Labour leader and Defence Minister Amir Peretz and Labour legislators Ophir Pines and Dani Yatom - fell out of the race.

Ayalon, too, had before the May 28 round vowed to take the Labour Party out of Olmert's Kadima-led coalition as soon as he won. But he has reportedly since struck a deal with Peretz and softened his tone in return for the latter's backing.

Peretz indeed publicly announced his support for Ayalon this weekend, guaranteeing the former Shin Bet internal security chief and navy commander at least some of the 22.4 per cent of Labour Party members who voted for Peretz in the first round.

In Wednesday's news conference, Pines, who obtained 8 per cent of the vote in the first round, for his part announced he was backing Barak, while Yatom has yet to announce whom he supports. He, however, received under three per cent of the vote last week.

According to opinion polls, Barak and Ayalon are currently running a tight race.
Last Mod: 07 Haziran 2007, 17:36
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