Through most of the night, as votes in the Labor primary were counted, MK Ami Ayalon had a higher percentage, but toward the morning former PM Ehud Barak moved ahead. As predicated, however, neither secured the required 40% for a win and there will be a run-off. Both are now going to be courting Peretz, who has the capacity to make the winner by throwing support in one direction or the other.
Suffice it to say that I am not enamored of any of these guys, but would really be happy if Barak did not win. He has enormous responsibility — which he has not acknowledged — for the situation in which we find ourselves because of the precipitous pullout of the IDF from southern Lebanon in 2000. He is astonishingly arrogant and, to my eye, very foolish. He campaigned on the theme that he is the one who can beat Netanyahu.
Much will be determined by who ultimately heads the Labor party: The position of minister of defense will be opened in Olmert’s government, as Peretz will have to bow out; Olmert may do some juggling of posts. More significant is the issue of whether Labor will stay in the coalition and will work with Olmert. Theories on how this will affect Olmert — including one that says this will end up being to his benefit — are flying fast and furious. But it’s too soon to go there.
I will follow with more information in the next couple of days, but close now by sharing a glowing endorsement of Barak by a Peretz associate that ran in the news this morning. It reflects the disheartening tenor of what is going on:
"In politics anything can happen. Ehud Barak is not so repulsive that we cannot support him."
How about that?