A former prime minister and a former secret service chief are to battle it out for the leadership of Israel’s Labour party. Ehud Barak, known for seeking peace with both the Palestinians and Syria when he was in office, won the first round of a poll of Labour party members, with 36 per cent of the vote. Close behind him on 31 per cent was Ami Ayalon, former head of Shin bet, who has also spoken often of the need for peace.
Whichever man wins the run-off it will spell trouble for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Castigated along with the outgoing Labour leader, Amir Peretz, for his mishandling of the war with Lebanon, both Barak and Ayalon have called for Olmert’s resignation. If they were to pull Labour out of the ruling coalition the government would lose its majority.