Labor membership list finally set

Party sets final list of members eligible to vote at 66,310 after long, arduous process of recruiting and questioning registration.

Labor 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Labor 311
(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.
The party’s 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.
Labor leadership 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.
“This 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.”
Yacimovich received endorsements at the event from Ra’anana Mayor Nahum Hofree and author Yoram Kaniuk.