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June 13, 2021

Ehud Barak, 4 other Knesset members leave Labour party

JERUSALEM – Israeli Defense Minister and Labor party chairman Ehud Barak and four other members of the nation’s parliament, the Knesset, are leaving the Labour faction and forming a new, independent faction, CNN reported.

Barak made the announcement Monday at a Knesset news conference. He told reporters that he and fellow Knesset members Matan Vilnai, Einat Wilf, Orit Noked and Shalom Simchon were leaving their party to form a new faction called Atzmaut, or Independence. Barak described it as a “centrist, Zionistic and democratic party.”

Barak, who has come under withering criticism from some Labour party members for staying in the right-wing coalition government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said the decision to bolt was due to the infighting within the party, which he claimed was “drifting left.” Labour ministers Avishai Braverman and Binyamin Ben Eliezer also said Monday they would resign from Netanyahu’s government.

Netanyahu expressed his appreciation to the ministers who had resigned, saying, “I enjoyed our time together and I thank them.” The Labour party, headed by Barak, held a total of 13 Knesset seats. With the announcement of a new faction, Barak and his colleagues are expected to stay in Netanyahu’s governing coalition.

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