Labor members cast votes in primary marred by violence

Peretz supporter is attacked by Yacimovich supporter, hospitalized; Yacimovich alleges misconduct by Peretz supporters; 44% of votes cast.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN, JPOST.COM STAFF
September 21, 2011 19:56
3 minute read.
Amir Peretz greets supporters

Amir Peretz greets supporters311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post))

An eight-month political saga that began when Defense Minister Ehud Barak split Labor and left it without a leader neared its end Wednesday, as party members headed to polls to choose between MKs Shelly Yacimovich and Amir Peretz.

As of 8 p.m., 29,915 votes had been cast, constituting some 44 percent of Labor membership.

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Late Wednesday morning, a Peretz supporter was attacked by a Yacimovich supporter outside a polling station, reportedly in the presence of Yacimovich, although that could not be confirmed.

Condemning the incident, Peretz called on all Labor Party members to prevent further violence. The day after the election, he said, "we'll need to unify against the Likud."

Peretz said that he personally knows an activist that was attacked, calling the injured man, someone who "has no connection to violence," and "truly the salt of the earth."

He added, "I hope that incidents like that will not be repeated."

Yacimovich filed at least two complaints with the Labor elections committee over delayed ballot slips in several polling stations and against a Peretz organizer who she said set up a table inside a Haifa polling station.

Earlier, she complained that polls at several Kibbutzim and large cities were prevented from opening on time Wednesday morning due to the delayed arrival of Peretz's ballot slips.

Yacimovich's representatives asked the elections committee to order the polling stations opened as the delay was clearly a Peretz tactic due to the fact that Yacimovich has a majority in those stations.

The elections committee ordered the polling stations open at 10:30 a.m., 30 minutes later than their scheduled opening time.


Polling stations across the country opened 10 a.m. and were set to close at 10 p.m. in order to allow the 66,310 Labor members to cast their ballots. Results were expected late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning.


Both Yacimovich and Peretz expressed confidence they will emerge victorious in meetings with their campaign staff and volunteers on Tuesday.

“We have a close race ahead of us that we intend to win, but it won’t be easy,” Yacimovich told her loyalists at her headquarters at Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Center.

“Our support is huge but we have to make sure it makes its way to a ballot box and decisive results, and doesn’t remain at home or merely in ‘likes’ on Facebook.”

In a speech to his loyalists in Afula Tuesday night, Peretz sounded as if he had already won the race. He spoke about the need for the party to start leading the way on diplomatic and socioeconomic issues in a way that would eventually lead to the toppling of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

“Our goal will be to bring more and more Likud voters who are disappointed with Netanyahu in order to increase the size of the center- left bloc and enable the formation of a socioeconomic government of peace,” Peretz said.

The key to victory in the race will be the ability of the candidates to maximize voter turnout among their supporters. Turnout is expected to be lower than the 66 percent who voted in the first round last Monday, due to the defeat of candidates Isaac Herzog and Amram Mitzna.

Peretz is known for having a well-oiled machine that is able to get out the vote where he has strong support in development towns and among Arabs.

But Yacimovich has the support of two of Labor’s top vote contractors, Druse former minister Salah Tarif and Histadrut Labor Federation chief Ofer Eini.

A lawyer for Peretz complained to Labor’s administration about Eini illegally using Histadrut offices and staff to work for Yacimovich.

The Yacimovich campaign called the complaint “political spin with no connection to reality.”


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