Israeli Labor Party leaves government; early election ahead

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Amir Peretz

A convention of the Israeli Labor Party in Tel Aviv decided on Sunday to pull its ministers out of the coalition government with the Likud Party of prime minister Ariel Sharon.

The decision results from an initative by party chair Amir Peretz, who was just elected to that office at the beginning of this month, succeeding Shimon Peres.

In his speech to the convention, Peretz accused Sharon's government of "humiliating" immigrants and poor people and said it had deepend poverty in the country. He called on Likud voters to switch to Labor because, "Likud has abandoned you".

Officials from both parties agreed that March 28, 2006 would be the date of early elections to the 17th Knesset.

Earlier today, Sharon thanked Peres for the work in the government and proclaimed, "Shimon, this is the beginning of our joint work". This statement is seen as reaffirming rumors that Sharon may quit Likud and form a new party, due to several disagreements with the Likud in the past.