Labor Party to Join Netanyahu Gov't.

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CBNNews.com - TEL AVIV, Israel - Labor party delegates voted late Tuesday to join a national unity government led by Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu.

"We do not have a spare country," Defense Minister and Labor chairman told Labor Central Committee delegates at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds.

"You can yell 'opposition' all you want, but the majority of Labor voters want to see us in the government," Barak said.

"I am not afraid of Binyamin Netanyahu. We will not serve as anyone's fig leaf. We will ensure there will not be a narrow, right-wing government," he said. 

The addition of the Labor party to the coalition gives Netanyahu 66 seats, even without United Torah Judaism, National Union and Jewish Home, should these parties decide not to join the government.

Early Tuesday morning, Defense Minister and Labor party chairman Ehud Barak signed the coalition agreement with Netanyahu, which will be presented to Labor's central committee for discussion, with a vote by secret ballot to follow.

While there is no specific "two states for two people" phrase, demanded by Kadima chairwoman and outgoing Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the government agreed to continue efforts to reach a comprehensive agreement for peace and cooperation in the Middle East.

The government agreed to honor previous international agreements signed by the Israeli administrations and continue efforts to achieve peace with neighboring countries.

The government agreed to enforce the law regarding illegal Jewish outposts and illegal Palestinian construction.

The agreement also provides for a "round table forum" composed of Treasury representatives, national labor federation, the Israeli Manufacturers Association and various social organizations on the economy.

The coalition deal provides Labor with five portfolios, two deputy ministers and chairmanship of a Knesset committee.

Labor secretary-general MK Eitan Cabel is leading the seven members opposed to joining the government, who include Shelly Yachimovich, Ofer Pines-Paz, Daniel Ben Simon, Amir Peretz, Yuli Tamir and Avishai Braverman.

These members sent a letter to Netanyahu stating they did not back the negotiating team nor would they support any agreement it reached.

Barak responded by saying "there is no legal impediment against establishing a negotiation team" and he would be happy to brief the party MKs on the progress.

"It is our duty to hold a legitimate political debate on what is right for the State of Israel, on what the citizens want and on what is good for the party, instead of writing fallacious letters," Barak said.

Sources: The Jerusalem Post, YNet news, Haaretz

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