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Barak Under Pressure To Give Way To Peres

Monday, August 27, 2001 | Tag Cloud Tags: , ,

Falling further behind in successive polls, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak is facing increasing calls to set aside in his bid for re-election in favor of the Labor's party elder statesman and leading dove Shimon Peres, who appears to have a better chance at defeating Likud Chairman Ariel Sharon in balloting on February 6.

Already judged by some as the least successful prime minister in the history of modern Israel, Barak faces a declining security situation, a final failed attempt at brokering a peace agreement with the Palestinians, and polls that show him trailing Sharon by a whopping 50% to 22%.

In contrast, polls indicate that Peres could pose a significant challenge to Sharon, or at least would fare better than Barak. While several polling results in the last week indicate a close race between the two, one conducted in recent days shows Peres garnering 38% percent to Sharon's 51%. Peres' better showing reflects more support among center/left voters extremely disappointed with Barak, especially among the Israeli Arab sector, which makes up 15% of the electorate.

In light of Barak's poor showing, One Israel MK Avi Yehezkel was the first Labor politician to call upon him to step down in deference to Peres. The direct-election law permits a party to withdraw its candidate, with his permission, up to four days before an election.

Haim Mendel-Shaked, Barak's former bureau chief until he resigned in August, concurred, claiming he spoke on behalf of many of those closest to the prime minister when he called on Barak to step down "for the sake of peace." Mendel-Shaked, a trusted Barak colleague since they served together as young army commandos, said he believed Barak had already secretly decided to pull out of the race.

So far, Barak has denied that he has any intention of pulling out, and his campaign team has rallied to his defense, boldly predicting he would not only stay in the race, but triumph over both Sharon and the pollsters.

But the pressure to quit is mounting, and is coming from abroad as well. On Monday, Barak defended his peace-making record before members of the Council on Foreign Relations, the American establishment's influential forum for steering US foreign policy. In a conference call, he explained at length his past policies and current plans for resolving the diplomatic impasse and renewed Palestinian violence. Remarkably, Barak's statement, which is available on the Israeli Foreign Ministry's website at http://www.mfa.gov.il, resembled something of a report to a board of directors.

But the appeal for understanding may have failed, as Henry Seigman, a senior fellow at CFR and leading Middle East analyst, authored an opinion piece in today's edition of the INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE that calls on Barak to step aside for a Peres candidacy. "The case for Ehud Barak's resignation as a candidate for the prime ministership is overwhelming… If [his resignation] prevented the coming to power of Mr. Sharon, it would keep alive the hope for a peace agreement," wrote Seigman.

Used with Permission from International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.

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Worthy Christian News » World News » Barak Under Pressure To Give Way To Peres