BIG VOTE IN ISRAEL TODAY: Labor Party votes to join government

Barak convinces Labor to join new governmentUPDATE: “Labor members voted in favor of chairman Ehud Barak’s proposal for the party to join a Likud-led government during Tuesday night’s convention at Tel Aviv’s Exhibition Grounds,” reports the Jerusalem Post. “1,071 party members attended the convention, with 58 percent voting in favor of joining  the government and 42% voting against it — a margin of 173 votes.”

ORIGINAL POST: Will they, or won’t they? That’s the big question at the moment. The 1,478 members of Israel’s Labor Party — led by former Prime Minister Ehud Barak — convenes Tuesday to decide whether to accept Benjamin Netanyahu’s offer to join his “unity” government in the face of existential threats from Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas.

Negotiators hammered out a draft agreement yesterday and overnight for the Labor delegates to review, debate and decide upon. A vote by secret ballot is being held, and news reports suggest the results should be known by 8pm Israel time, or 1pm eastern. Senior Labor Party leaders close to Barak say they believe they have the votes to win and join Netanyahu’s government. A significant development came when Labor MK Isaac Herzog announced he was endorsing the deal and voting to join the government. Herzog is widely seen as Barak’s successor. His father, the late Chaim Herzog, was one of Israel’s Founding Fathers and once the President of the country. If Labor does vote to join, Barak will be Defense Minister.

For other details of the agreement, see this report in the Jerusalem Post.