JERUSALEM, Aug. 25 (JTA) — Israel’s main opposition party is millions of dollars in the red, according to the party’s leader. The flood of red ink prompted party head Ehud Barak to dismiss 35 party workers last week. But the abruptness of the dismissals caused some Labor Party colleagues to criticize Barak — and it also led to a four-day sit-in by workers at party headquarters. On Aug. 21, Barak directed two lawyers to hand out pink slips to workers at the party headquarters. Outraged by the dismissals, which were effective immediately, employees barricaded themselves in the building, remaining there over the weekend. The employees said they were most angered by the fact that Barak did not meet with them personally in an effort try to seek another solution. During a meeting last Friday with Labor Knesset members, Barak tried to explain his decision to issue the pink slips, but he drew angry accusations that the former Israel Defense Force chief of staff could not hand down dictates as if he were still running the army. At that meeting, Barak said reforms were essential if the party was to continue functioning. He said the party had a total deficit of more than $24 million, a situation he described as “unacceptable.” Labor Knesset member Ephraim Sneh said Barak should have first discussed a possible recovery plan with party members and then decided on dismissals, if necessary. The sit-in ended Sunday after Barak announced that he had put off the dismissals for 10 days and would meet with the employees at party headquarters.
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