Israel's Labor Party voted today to join the incoming government of Benjamin Netanyahu, giving a centrist tone to the coalition that has looked hard-line up to now. The vote—680 in favor and 507 against—came after heated debate. "I won't be anyone's fig leaf or anyone's third wheel," said party leader Ehud Barak. "We will be the counterweight that will guarantee that we won't have a narrow right-wing government, but a real government that will take care of the state of Israel."
Barak is expected to remain as defense minister. Netanyahu has signed coalition agreements with Yisrael Beitenu and Shas, two parties known for their tough policy lines toward the Palestinians, as is Netanyahu's own Likud Party. Labor, in contrast, has been in the forefront of Mideast peace efforts. Labor's 13 seats in the parliament would give Netanyahu a majority of 66 in the 120-seat house.