(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
After a long, arduous process of drafting members to the party and then
questioning their registration, Labor set its final list of members eligible to
vote in its September 12 primary on Thursday at 66,310.
election committee released a statement saying that 8,226 people who tried to
join the party but still had problems with paying their membership dues would no
longer be accepted.
Thousands of others who tried to join Labor were
disqualified because they were members of other parties, their dues were paid by
people who were not immediate family members, or because the Interior Ministry
could not verify that they were real, living people.
The chairman of the
election committee, former minister Ra’anan Cohen, sent a letter to the five
candidates vowing that the party’s membership rolls were now clean and that the
thousands of appeals issued on the party’s registration drive were handled
fairly. He pleaded with the candidates to handle the election itself and its
aftermath with mutual respect.
“This is the time for Labor to restore the
public’s faith in the party, so we can have an impact on deciding the country’s
future,” Cohen wrote the candidates.
Contenders for the Labor leadership
each claimed victory in the party’s final membership list. While sources close
to multiple candidates said their rival, MK Amir Peretz, had been harmed by
disqualifications of thousands of his loyalists, his spokesman expressed
confidence that the new list was good for Peretz.
“We sent people to the
banks to take care of any remaining problems and make sure the people we brought
to the party would be accepted,” Peretz’s spokesman said.
Now the only
thing that could stop the primary from taking place on September 12 is a lawsuit
against the party at Petah Tikva District Court filed by venture capitalist and
candidate Erel Margalit, who says the race must be delayed for technical, legal
reasons. All four of the other candidates want the race held on time, and the
court is expected to decide against interfering.
contender Shelly Yacimovich promised Wednesday to remain in the party even if
she loses the primary, and she called upon the other four candidates in the race
to do the same.
Yacimovich spoke at a rally she hosted at Tel Aviv’s
Kibbutz Seminar that attracted some 1000 supporters, including hundreds of young
people and most notably, President Shimon Peres’s granddaughter Noa Walden, who
recently joined the party. Walden read aloud on stage from Yacimovich’s new book
We, which the candidate launched at the event.
“Labor has been given a
huge window of opportunity paving the party’s way back to the center of
political attention where it can have renewed influence,” Yacimovich said. “The
socioeconomic debate affects all of us from birth to old age.
debate is here to stay and Labor under me will be the only party that could
really serve as an alternative to the right-wing economic and diplomatic
policies of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.”
endorsements at the event from Ra’anana Mayor Nahum Hofree and author Yoram