(photo credit: REUTERS)
Amir Peretz obtained endorsements from two respected figures in the party who focus on diplomatic issues on Tuesday, a day after he announced his candidacy for chairman of the Labor Party.
The endorsements of former consul-general in New York, Alon Pinkas, and former peace negotiator Gilead Sher surprised many in the party’s ranks, because Peretz is known for his socioeconomic focus. Pinkas told The Jerusalem Post that even though he criticized Peretz when he was Labor leader in 2006, he should lead the party again now.
“I truly think the Peretz of 2017 is a different Peretz than he was in 2006,” Pinkas said. “He is much more experienced, and much more broad in his approach. He has a good vision for Israel and where it should be headed. Between him and [incumbent party chairman Isaac] Herzog, he’s the right man for the job.”
Pinkas said he believes Peretz could bring three or four mandates from socioeconomically-minded voters from the Right to the Left.
Statistics supplied by the Peretz campaign showed that he did that when he headed the party in 2006, but he also lost a similar amount of voters to Kadima, which no longer exists.
“Peretz displayed consistent leadership in his struggle for socioeconomic justice in a secure Israel and a two-state solution,” said Sher, who was Ehud Barak’s chief of staff when he was prime minister and Labor leader.
It is still unclear who else will join the fray and challenge Herzog besides Peretz and MK Erel Margalit.
MK Shelly Yacimovich is considering running and party figures are trying to woo a general, such as former IDF chiefs Gabi Ashkenazi or Benny Gantz.
Labor will be holding a separate election on January 19 for the post of party secretary-general, a job once held by David Ben-Gurion and currently held by MK Hilik Bar. Tuesday was the last day to join that race.
The only MK to seek the post will be Michal Biran, a former aide to Yacimovich. The other candidates are former Yacimovich political adviser Yair Fink, Rishon Lezion Labor activist Richard Peres, former Labor Young Guard head Eran Hermoni and party activists Yuval Mor-Muesli and Abie Binyamin.