Ladies and gentlemen, the Labor party no longer has a measly 13 seats in the Knesset. No, it has an even measlier 8, after Defense Minister Ehud Barak and four loyal MKs split from Labor and created a new faction, with the pathos-filled name "Independence". The quality of the Labor MKs just rose, though, because the best ones stayed. I'm mainly referring to Avishay Braverman, the outgoing Minister of Minority Affairs, and Shelly Yechimovich.
Barak is pulling an Ariel Sharon - a major cabinet member (prime minister or defense minister) who leaves the party of which he is the chairman with a bit more than one third of the delegation in order to create a new party that would allow him to carry out his policies. Barak's direction, however, is the opposite of Sharon's. Sharon left the Likud in order to be freed of right-wing extremists. Barak is creating a new party, which would basically be a subsidiary of Likud, in order to be freed of supporters of the two-state solution who believe Barak and Labor shouldn't serve as the right-wing extremist government's fig leaf.
Former Meretz chairman Yossi Sarid predicts the Independence Party will merge with Likud. He might be right. I doubt they'll be able to muster enough votes to get into the Knesset in the next elections.
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