Labor chairman Amir Peretz intends to maintain his stance of refusing to join a government headed by Binyamin Netanyahu – despite overwhelming pressure from within and without the party. The latest official to urge Peretz to join such a government is Histadrut chairman Arnon Ben-David, who on Thursday told Army Radio that “there are too many people in the political establishment ‘banning’ others. If Blue and White can consider joining a government led by Netanyahu, Amir Peretz can hear what they are offering. He can even regrow his mustache if he wants,” Ben-David said.
Nothing doing, Peretz said. “Our mandate is to remove Netanyahu from office, and not just Netanyahu, but his policies as well. Netanyahu must understand that Israelis have chosen to remove him from office. We made a commitment and we will fulfill it, not to join a Netanyahu-led government. We need a change from an era of ignoring social needs to taking care of them, from unlimited hate to unlimited love, and our mandate will be fulfilled.”
Also urging Peretz to talk to Netanyahu is Labor MK Pini Cabilo, who wrote in a social media post that negotiating with the Likud “will keep Labor in the loop. I know some of our members will be angry at this, but each person is entitled to his opinion. This is what party institutions – whose aim is to join a government – were established for.” According to media reports, other MKs have made similar appeals, as have the heads of kibbutzim and moshavim, which furnished the bedrock of Labor’s support in the elections, helping it get six seats.
In a radio interview, former Labor head Avi Gabay said that he “regretted not joining the previous government Netanyahu attempted to form in April.” Gabay that he had received “a very generous offer” from Netanyahu, and that had he accepted it, the country would be a in a much better position today.
“At the end of the day, we are in a situation where there is no government, and we have wasted millions of shekels on new elections, and we are in the same situation as then. I could have brought about great change, but I was alone in my desire to join the government” among his party’s MKs. “I certainly regret that I did not pursue the deal.” Reports in April said that Netanyahu had offered four ministries to the five-member Labor faction – among them finance minister.