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Labor Party Official Quits Post

Uzi Baram resigned as secretary-general of the Labor Party Sunday, citing “deep ideological disagreements” with the party’s leadership.

But he denied there was a “rupture” with the party command.

His announcement was widely seen as the opening of a campaign to replace party leader Shimon Peres, who is vice premier and finance minister in the present government.

Peres did not comment immediately on Baram’s move.

Baram, a dove and one of his party’s younger generation, said his resignation was “an inevitable outcome” of his opposition to Labor’s decision last month to from a new coalition government with Likud.

He told a news conference that he represents a “sizeable part of the Labor Party that believes the pursuit of peace is the central issue at this time.

“We are not a marginal group — we represent the true spirit of the Labor Party,” Baram said.

He criticized Peres for not “at least welcoming the slight chance that something good might come” from the U.S. decision to open talks with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Baram has been Labor secretary-general since 1984. He informed Peres and Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin of his intention to quit on Saturday. He will tender his resignation formally at a meeting of the party leadership Thursday.

Speculation is rife over who will succeed him. Possible successors include two women, former Health Minister Shoshana Arbeli-Almoslino and Ora Namir, who were both turned down for Cabinet positions.

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