In private conversations, Defense Minister Ehud Barak who Monday, Jan. 17 resigned as Labor chairman and established a new party with four supporters, has accused President Shimon Peres of plotting his downfall in collusion with MK Haim Ramon of the opposition Kadima and Ofer Eini of Labor, debkafile's Exclusive sources report.
Early Tuesday, Binyamin Netanyahu's Likud and Atzmaut (Independence) sign a coalition agreement assigning four cabinet portfolios to the new party: Mattan Vilnai is promoted from deputy defense minister to full minister in charge of homeland security, Shalom Simhon, former Agriculture Minister, gets Trade, Industry and Employment and MK Orit Noked gets her first ministerial post in agriculture. Barak stays in Defense.
Barak told his close associates that he is holding back the details of the Peres conspiracy against him and the identies of some co-conspirators out of concern for the face of public life in Israel and its security, but when the truth does comes out it will cause a political earthquake.
The defense minister named four involved groups:
1. President Peres himself.
2. MK Haim Ramon, chairman of the opposition Kadima council, whom Barak accused of stirring up an insidious media campaign of many months to smear him, the prime minister, the foreign minister, the ultra-religious and the religious factions and so topple the government. Ramon is said to have used his excellent ties in the media to spread deliberate lies about their conduct. He made specific mention of Ramon's "peculiar" relations with Rina Matzliah, political correspondent of TV Channel 2 and one of its program presenters Dana Weiss.
3. Ofer Eini, a Labor heavyweight and Secretary-General of the Histadrut Trade Unions Federation, is named by Barak as heading the third group of conspirators.
Kadima leader Tzipi Livni was described as "blind and naïve" and led by the nose by Haim Ramon without realizing she was digging her own political grave in a plot which had the dual purpose of her ouster and Kadima's merger with Labor under Ofer Eini's leadership.
Eini is a hot object of pursuit because of the huge asset he can bring to any party of the national trade unions and a broad voter base.
4. The ministers forced to resign Monday after Barak dropped his bombshell were the fourth group plotting his political demise at a party conference next month or March. They are Yitzhak Herzog, former minister for social affairs, Binymin Ben Eliezer, Trade, Industry and Employment, and Avishai Braverman. They constantly plagued him and the government with threats to quit and bring the government down their demands were met. But, he remarked, they left it too late.