Wednesday, 19 January 2011

More gloom for Israel as Ehud Barak quits Labour Party

Back in October, I commented here on the on-going middle-eastern impasse in Israel.

Well, things have this week got that bit gloomier still.

Former Labor Leader and Israeli Prime Miniter, Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak, the former Israeli Prime Minister, abruptly resigned both the leadership and his membership of the Labour Party on Monday to set up yet another new Israeli political party. The new party will be names Atzmaut (or Independence) and will be 'centrist, Zionist and democratic.

He has been joined by 3 fellow Labour ministers from Benjamin Netanyahu's coaltion government and also by an additional Labour MP from the Knesset. The remaining Labour members of the government have resigned. Barak remains in Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition which, despite being reduced to 66 seats out of Knesset total 120, has in the Prime Minister's eyes, been "greatly strengthened" by this move.

Fractured opposition to Netanyahu
This has meant that the opposition to Netanyahu and his Likud Party has been further eroded and fractured. Indeed, it now means that the governing coalition is now dominated by parties that largely oppose granting major concessions to the Palestinians.

In the cause of a long-term, stable two-nation peace, this latest development does not seem to have helped matters.

The decline of the Israeli Labour Party
What this also means is that the Labour Party, once one of the colossuses of Israeli politics, is now almost a mere bit player.

It has over the years given us names such as David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir, Shimon Peres and of course Nobel Peace Prize winner and the architect of the Oslo Accords, Yitzhak Rabin - all giants in Israeli history.

They peaked as a single party with the 44 Knesset seats that they won as recently as 1992 but in the most recent elections in February 2009, they won just 13 seats and less than 10% of the vote. This week's split means that they are now left with a rump of just 8 seats.

It is now the more centrist Kadima Party, that split away from the right-wing Likud Party when Ariel Sharon was leader, and not Labour, that now leads the battle against Netanyahu.

The Palestinians ended the direct peace talks with Israel at the end of September after Benjamin Netanyahu refused to commit to another long-term settlement building freeze.

Will this week's turbulent political developments help jolt the peace process back on track? Unfortunately, I very much doubt it.

1 comment:

  1. I am of the same opinion that these political developments won't help bring back peace to the peace process. These would only make matters worst than it was before. And it seems a hopeless situation for Israel. But probably, there is still hope somehow.