Ehud Barak Props Up Olmert Gov't.

Ad Feedback - JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli Defense Minister and Labor party chairman Ehud Barak surprised no one with his announcement Sunday morning that he will remain in the Olmert government.

"I am staying on as defense minister due to the challenges that face us -- beginning with Gaza, Lebanon, Hezbollah and the rehabilitation of the IDF and the political echelon," Barak told reporters prior to Sunday's Cabinet meeting.

Barak appeared unfazed about reneging on his campaign promise to leave the coalition with the publication of the Winograd Commission's report evaluating the government's handling of the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006.

While Prime Minister Ehud Olmert welcomed his decision, others did not.

"I am sickened by the relentless celebrations within Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government following the Winograd Commission report," said Member of Knesset (MK) Shelly Yacimovich (Labor), who along with Labor MKs Ofer Pines-Paz, Danny Yatom, and Eitan Cabel wants Labor to leave the government.

MK Yossi Beilin, chairman of the ultra-left Meretz-Yahad party, said Barak's shameful decision surprised no one.

"Barak's decision is as shaming as it is predictable," Beilin said. "This was a grave mistake. Barak relinquished his chance to push for the prime minister's replacement…despite Winograd's contingent that he cannot serve as one [prime minister]," he said.

Likud concurred.

"Barak, as expected, is running away from his responsibility, preferring his own interests and excusing it by citing the good of the country. Barak has proven he prefers his personal political survival over the country's welfare, which demands that the government be replaced," read Likud's statement.

Source: YNet news service

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