Renegade Shas MK Haim Amsalem tried unsuccessfully to draft Labor MK Amir Peretz to his new Am Shalem Party that will focus on socioeconomic issues and bridging the gap between the ultra- Orthodox and the secular, sources confirmed on Tuesday.

Peretz’s political stock has gone up since Operation Pillar of Defense began last Wednesday, because he was the defense minister who insisted on purchasing the Iron Dome short-range missile- defense system that has been proven very effective in shooting down incoming rockets. Since Peretz is not on good term with Labor chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich, Amsalem told Peretz he would be welcome in his party. But Peretz said Labor was his political home.

Amsalem has given the second slot on his candidates list to former OC Human Resources Maj.-Gen. (res.) Elazar Stern, a religious Zionist who Amsalem hopes can draw voters away from the joint Habayit Hayehudi/National Union list. Stern is considered an expert on two key issues for the party: increasing haredi enlistment in the military and in national service programs, and integrating ultra-Orthodox men into the work force.

Itzik Alrov, a Sephardi haredi man from Bnei Brak who led successful protests against the price of cottage cheese, inquired about the third slot on the list. But Amsalem said he intends to give that position to a wellknown secular woman whose identity he will reveal just ahead of the December 6 deadline for party lists to be submitted to the Central Elections Committee.

If Alrov runs with Am Shalem, he may have to settle for the fourth slot. Polls have indicated that the party would win three or four Knesset seats.

Amsalem said he may still decide to run with Habayit Hayehudi/National Union. But the election of Sephardi rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan to the National Union’s second slot Sunday made that less likely.

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