Israel's Labour party threatens to leave coalition

A senior Labour Cabinet minister has insisted that his party will leave Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition government unless the Prime Minister takes the steps necessary to resume direct peace talks with the Palestinians.

Avishai Braverman, minister for minorities and a leading future candidate for the Labour leadership said the next month was "critical" as he called on Mr Netanyahu to restore the freeze on West Bank settlement building in the wake of this week's mid-term US elections.

The minister said that he had already urged both Mr Netanyahu and Mr Barak to extend the freeze on settlement Jewish settlement construction for "another 4-5 months" and declared: "We need to move as soon as possible. It's the only way to guarantee the state of the Jewish people - by moving boldly after the election in the US." The Palestinian leadership has refused to participate in direct talks without a further settlement freeze.

The former President of Ben-Gurion University and senior World Bank official said in an interview that President Obama should remain focused on securing Middle East peace even if the Democrats suffer reverses in Tuesday's elections. "The world needs a strong President of the US," he said.

He added: "Labour will not be in the coalition government if [Mr Netanyahu] misses this opportunity. I want him to succeed. The critical time is the next month." He said that if "there was any wisdom" there would be a 4-5 month settlement freeze to allow talks to begin in earnest, and that in the likely event that right wing members of the coalition started to peel off because of the freeze and resumed talks then the centrist Kadima would replace them.

Mr Braverman added: "Netanyahu has to make a very tough choice but leadership is about tough choices…For Netanyahu the game is now. He has to choose between sustaining political equilibrium to survive, or changing it to make history. It's tough. He has to go against some members of his own party. It's an act of bravery [that is required]."

Pressed on when Labour ministers might walk out of the coalition he added, "I don't want to pull a smoking gun. If there are the beginnings of serious negotiations Labour stays; if not Labour leaves." But Mr Braverman, a particularly vigorous critic of Israel's hard right foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, insisted Mr Netanyahu was in "a strong position" to make peace with the Palestinians as a "leader of the right with total support from the left" if he chose.

Mr Braverman said that the Arab Peace Initiative should be the "basis of the negotiations." The Initiative, reaffirmed at the Arab League's 2007 Riyadh summit, offers recognition of Israel in return for a two state solution on 1967 borders. Mr Braverman wants a deal which would put some major West Bank settlements in Israel as part of a land swap with the Palestinians.

Ehud Barak, whose personal popularity along with that of his party, slumped to a record low when it won only 13 seats in the 2009 elections, is already under pressure to call a leadership contest in 2011. Mr Braverman—whose future candidacy is an open secret, though he has yet to declare—is one of three probable front runners, including welfare minister Isaac Herzog and Knesset backbencher Shelly Yachimovich.

Mr Braverman said the once dominant party was in "it's worst position ever" and added that it "should not any more be the party of marginal changes...I believe in creating a party of major changes or it will become irrelevant. It can be transformed."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager - Part Time

£16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital agency based in Ashford, Ke...

Recruitment Genius: Sales and Marketing Executive

£19000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Author / Multimedia Writer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent