Police probe Peretz over primary payola
Yacimovich attributes corruption in internal Labor vote to former party leader, who files own Ethics Committee complaint.
Amir Peretz joins Tzivi Lipni Party Photo: Screenshot Channel 10
The police are investigating MK Amir Peretz (Hatnua) over allegations of paying
vote contractors to boost his position in the Labor primary.
police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that on Monday, someone had approached
investigators from the National Fraud Investigations Unit and given them
information about apparent irregularities in the Labor Party during its
primaries before the latest election.
After reviewing the information,
police Investigations Unit chief Cmdr. Yoav Segelovich decided on Tuesday to
launch a probe into the allegations.
Speaking at a yearly roundup of the
Coastal District Police, police chief Insp.- Gen. Yohanan Danino said that on
Monday, police had “received information about election fraud, and we carried
out several steps and consulted with the attorney-general before deciding to
open an investigation.”
He vowed that “the police won’t be a tool in the
hands of any political body. The police will investigate and do their job to
find the truth.”
Peretz denied being involved “actively or passively,
neither in witnessing or participating” in vote purchasing.
Danino for opening the investigation and called for him to complete it as
quickly as possible.
The Hatnua MK also submitted a complaint to the
Knesset Ethics Committee against Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich, for naming
Peretz in an interview with Army Radio Tuesday morning.
Peretz, a former
defense minister and Labor leader, left his party in December to join Tzipi
Livni’s Hatnua party, despite reaching the third spot in the Labor
Though he was the one who brought Yacimovich into politics,
their relationship soured, and they became bitter rivals in Labor’s 2011
“Unfortunately this incident took place during the
Labor primaries,” Yacimovich said, after Yediot Aharonot reported that a former
senior minister was suspected of buying votes. “The senior minister is Amir
Peretz. To our relief, the person who committed this act is no longer a member
of the Labor Party.”
According to Peretz, Yacimovich violated Knesset
ethical guidelines requiring MKs to respect their colleagues and avoid
inappropriate use of their immunity and rights.
The complaint points out
that while the media did not publicize the names of those involved in the
vote-buying scandal, Yacimovich did, saying she “figures it’ll come out
“The attempts to sully MK Amir Peretz’s name will not succeed,”
his spokeswoman said. “Everyone knows he is honest and careful. Everything
described in the article relating to him never happened.”
to her Facebook page to condemn the use of vote contractors, whom candidates pay
to bring in votes.
“Joining a party you believe in is a values-driven,
important step that allows you to participate in elections for party chairperson
and its MKs,” she wrote. “In addition to the process’s advantages, there are
some disgusting and upsetting phenomena like vote contractors. I strongly
denounce this, and feel a deep distaste toward it and have publicly fought a war
against this infection.”
Peretz has widely been expected to be the second
minister from Hatnua in the next government, in light of the party’s coalition
agreement giving it the Environmental Protection portfolio – leading to tension
between him and MK Amram Mitzna, second on Hatnua’s list.
that if the former Labor leader is indicted, he should resign from the
“I know Amir Peretz, and although we are ostensibly adversaries, I don’t think he did these things,” Mitzna added in an interview
with Army Radio.
Labor MK Erel Margalit was also mentioned in reports as
having paid for votes in the party’s primary, something he firmly
“I was shocked to find my name in these reports. I have nothing
to do with the issue, and I have never paid anyone or given anyone anything so
he would vote for me,” he stated.
Margalit added that he had worked hard
traveling the country to build support by personally meeting people.
can only guess who would be motivated to mix my name up in this matter, and I’m
sure it will become clear soon that I have no connection to it,” Margalit
Former ministers Ghaleb Majadle and Salah Tarif, who did not make
it into the Knesset, were also named as Labor candidates suspected of paying
Meanwhile, Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat took
advantage of the news about Labor to continue her campaign for the cancellation
of primaries in the Likud.
Livnat gathered signatures of 37 mayors and
Likud chapter chairmen who supported her cause, including Ashdod Mayor Yehiel
Lasri, Netanya Mayor Miriam Feirberg and Modi’in Mayor Haim Bibas.