Labor casts doubt over nearly half of new members

Party's election c'tee says some 26,000 new registrants may be disqualified; Peretz slams "capitalist media" reports.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
July 7, 2011 17:54
2 minute read.
Labor Party

Labor Party 521 (do not publish again). (photo credit: Flash 90)

 
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Labor’s election committee cast a shadow over the party’s membership drive on Thursday when it announced that 26,000 of its 55,000 new members may be rejected due to problems with their credit card or bank details in paying their fees.

The party had announced with great fanfare a month ago that its membership had surpassed 80,000 members.

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But since then, investigations in the media – and now by the party – have found serious problems with the registration drive.

The 26,000 number does not include thousands of membership forms that will be disqualified because registrants illegally tried to join Labor without first rescinding their membership in Kadima, Meretz, or Likud – and hundreds more who had their membership fee paid for by someone who is not a close family member.

“I am proud of the steps we have taken to ensure that our membership rolls will be accurate,” Election Committee chairman Ra’anan Cohen said.

Cohen said that despite the many problems with the drive, the list of new Labor members will be submitted next Friday to the five candidates in the September 12 primary. They will be given five days to issue appeals, and the final list of Labor members will be released July 31.

Hours before the election committee released its findings, Labor leadership candidate Amir Peretz blamed allegations of corruption in the drive on “the capitalist media.”

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In remarks aimed at Channel 2 and Yediot Aharonot, he said the probes that discredited new Labor members were false and intended to harm his chances of winning the race.

“Knowing that newspapers like to use the word ‘research,’ I checked these investigative reports,” Peretz said. “To me, distortion, and using only half the truth, is worse than outright lying.”

At a Tel Aviv press conference with Union of Local Authorities chairman Shlomo Buhbut, who endorsed Peretz after quitting the race last week, Peretz said the Left needed to wake up.

“The peace camp must realize that drinking espresso and analyzing the world from a Tel Aviv cafe won’t bring change,” Peretz said. “It might be easier for the peace camp to turn inward, but this is too fateful a time for that.”

A Shvakim Panorama poll broadcast on Israel Radio on Thursday found that former Labor chairman Amram Mitzna was most popular among the general public, while people who voted for Labor in the last election preferred MKs Isaac Herzog and Shelly Yacimovich.

Among the general public, 28 percent favored Mitzna; 19% Herzog, 16.5% Yacimovich; 16% Herzog; and 4% venture capitalist Erel Margalit.

Among Labor voters in the last election, 24.4% support Herzog; 24.1% Yacimovich; 19% Mitzna; 15.5% Peretz; and 3.2% Margalit.

Peretz’s associates reacted to his poor performance in the polls by noting that Labor members would decide who their next leader will be, not the general public.

They added that the people who voted Labor in the last election were voting for former Labor chairman Ehud Barak, so it was unsurprising that Peretz does not fare well among them.

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