Netanyahu: Barak's decision to quit Labor strengthens government

11:15, January 18, 2011      

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Israel's Defence Minister Ehud Barak attends a news conference at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem January 17, 2011. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that Defense Minister Ehud Barak's decision to step down from his leadership of the Labor Party would strengthen the governing coalition.

"The government has grown much stronger today, in its governance and stability, and this is important for Israel," Netanyahu told reporters.

"The whole world, including the Palestinians, knows that this government will be here in the coming years," Netanyahu said, adding that "we aim to restart and advance the peace process based on our interests, mainly security."

Barak shocked the Jewish state's political establishment earlier in the day when he officially announced his resignation from Labor's most senior position in order to pursue the creation of an independent faction, to be called "Independence Party."

He will take with him four other Labor lawmakers, including Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai.

"Ultimately, this move is going to serve to stabilize the government and hopefully the peace process," a senior aid to Netanyahu told Israel Radio.

A staff member of the Prime Minister's Bureau said "there were people who were telling the Palestinian leadership that the Labor Party was close to bolting and that the coalition is unstable."

"Today's development shows that was not a correct analysis," he was quoted by local daily Haaretz as saying.

Hours after Barak decided to quit Labor, three Labor ministers, Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog, Minority Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman and Trade, Industry and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer announced their resignation from Netanyahu's government.

However, with the new Independence Party's five Knesset members, Netanyahu's coalition is still able keep a majority in the parliament.

Source: Xinhua
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