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
Lois Pryce... Life Without a Postcode. Lois lives on a boat with her husband.. Registering to vote in the election has prooved to be very difficult without a fixed residential post code. (David Sandison)
newsHow living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Steven Fletcher scores the second goal for Scotland
cricketBut they have to bounce back to beat Gibraltar in Euro 2016 qualifier
ebooksNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing