Labor edges towards joining Netanyahu government

debkafile‘s political sources report that the Histadrut Trade Unions leader, Ofer Eini, who has emerged as supreme national fixer in the ongoing crises over business closures and layoffs, has thrown his support behind the outgoing defense minister Ehud Barak’s bid to join Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud-led government. Eini’s backing, voiced in a radio interview Thursday, March 5, is helping Barak buck the revolt of stalwarts who insist on taking the part into opposition. It also brings Netanyahu closer to his goal of a broad national government.
Some previously timorous fellow-Laborites have been encouraged to come out in support of a government role, including three ministers in the outgoing administration, Yitzhak Herzog, Shalom Simhon, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and deputy defense minister Mattan Vilnai.
Nonetheless, Labor party sources say, Barak is holding back his final answer to the prime minister-designate in order to improve his party’s bargaining position. In addition to defense, he wants five economic and social affairs departments for Labor.
Netanyahu is engaged in bargaining tactics of his own. He is playing on widespread reports of his impending offer of the foreign affairs ministry to Avigdor Lieberman, head of the right-wing Israel Beitenu foreign affairs, in order to bring Labor and Kadima to the table. If they step in, he would likely drop Israel Beitenu.

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