News Analysis: Barak's departure may restart Israel's left-wing

13:11, January 20, 2011      

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by Adam Gonn

Despite speculations that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak's decision on Monday to leave the Labor party might be the final nail in the coffin for the left wing in Israel, some analysts outlined a different picture, arguing the void left by him was an excellent opportunity for the party to reshape itself and once again become a powerhouse in Israeli politics.


Daniel Gutwein, a professor of the department of Jewish people history at Haifa University, said Barak's departure was not the end of the left but a chance for Labor to reinvent itself.

"I believe that what has happened will change the Labor party and it will strengthen the social democratic elements on the left, " Gutwein said.

According to him, the party now has a historic opportunity to break out of its old mold and reshape itself as a new and modern social democratic party guided by ideas closer to those on which the party was founded.

Ever since the establishment of Israel in 1948, Labor and its predecessor Mapai has been the dominant force in the country's politics under leadership of prime ministers such as Golda Meir and Yitzhak Rabin. However, since its glorious days in the 1960s and 1970s, the Labor party has seen its influence on Israeli politics steadily decline.

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