Independence: Many Laborites will come to us

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
September 15, 2011 02:46

“Hundreds of people have realized that Labor is no longer their cup of tea,” party official says. "They don't want to go to Kadima."

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EHUD BARAK announces formation of new party

Independence faction 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

The results of the first round of the Labor leadership race persuaded hundreds of party members to leave for the Independence Party, sources in Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s party said Wednesday.

The sources said that many supporters of losing candidates Isaac Herzog and Amram Mitzna, who had backed Barak in the past had called, phoned, e-mailed or Facebooked Independence officials since Monday’s Labor race. They said the frustrated Laborites included branch heads and regional directors.

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“Hundreds of people have realized that Labor is no longer their cup of tea,” an Independence official said.

“They don’t want to go to Kadima, so they come to us. The people who leave Labor will form the infrastructure of our new party.”

The officials said they expected hundreds more to leave Labor following Wednesday’s second round of voting, depending on whether it is won by MK Shelly Yacimovich or MK Amir Peretz.

The Independence Party will publicly welcome the former Laborites at their pre- Rosh Hashana toast on September 25, confirmed Independence Party director-general Oshi Elmaliah.

Yacimovich and Peretz each met with Herzog and Yacimovich on Wednesday in an effort to draft their support.

Both are expected by the end of the week either to announce whom they intend to back in the second round or whether they will not endorse anyone.

A group of mayors sent Herzog a letter urging him to support Peretz.

The list of mayors included Shlomo Buhbut of Ma’alot, Itzik Rochbereger of Ramat Hasharon, and Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council Mayor Alon Shuster.

Peretz continued warning on Wednesday that if Yacimovich won she would help Likud. As proof, his spokesman noted that MK Carmel Shama-Hakohen (Likud) endorsed Yacimovich on his Facebook page.

Yacimovich said afterward that she was not responsible for the opinions of Likud MKs but that under her leadership, Labor would help lead a fighting opposition.

A Dialog poll published in Haaretz found that if elections were held now, the Labor Party would win 22 Knesset seats under Yacimovich and 18 under Peretz.

Yacimovich would take six seats away from Kadima and Peretz would take four, the poll found.


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