311_ amir peretz.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post))
The first Labor Party convention under the leadership of chairwoman Shelly
Yacimovich turned ugly on Wednesday as MK Amir Peretz used the stage at the Tel
Aviv Soldiers’ House to call his political foe, Histadrut labor federation chief
Ofer Eini, a traitor.
Labor central committee members convened to pass a
proposal backed by Yacimovich to endorse Eini’s reelection bid in May. In an
angry speech that was repeatedly stopped by heckling, Peretz pleaded with the
central committee members to “avoid falling into Eini’s honey trap before it’s
too late” to reject Yacimovich’s deal.
“I don’t doubt the party
chairwoman when she says she believes in democracy, but I advise everyone not to
make holy the majority,” Peretz told the loud, packed auditorium.
were regimes where majorities enabled them to do terrible things.”
recalled that it was he who brought Eini to power in the Histadrut as his
replacement when he left to lead Labor in 2005. Eini then purged the Histadrut
of Peretz’s loyalists and used the labor union to fight against
“They say I want to take revenge on Ofer Eini for his big betrayal,”
“They say I raised him and brought him to power and he betrayed me.
That’s correct. I don’t like traitors and neither do you. They say I signed the
first deal with him when I was chairman of Labor. If I am responsible for this
sin, I feel I must take action to fix it.”
Peretz accused Eini of
enabling the sale of an Israeli factory to a millionaire who will move its jobs
He said Eini was thrown out of this summer’s socioeconomic
protest because of his ties to tycoons. He disputed statements made by other
speakers at the event that Eini was part of Labor even though he heads a list
called Ogen that is independent of the party.
“They say Ofer Eini is the
flesh of Labor’s flesh,” Peretz said. “I ask you, when have you seen Ofer Eini
tell people to vote Labor? When have you seen him at a rally for peace? He
hasn’t done anything for this party. He only uses Labor as a plaything and comes
to events of the party to call its chairman ‘an idiot’ [a statement he made when
Ehud Barak headed Labor].
When the head of the convention, former justice
minister David Libai, prevented Peretz from finishing his speech, which ran
overtime due to the heckling, the MK left the auditorium in anger and took his
supporters with him.
“There was no point in staying in a place where they
silence people and vote on a done deal,” Peretz’s spokeswoman said.
Eini endorsement passed by a wide margin, thanks to the support of Yacimovich
and MKs Isaac Herzog and Binyamin Ben-Eliezer. Herzog used his speech to plead
for unity in the party.
“Labor is sick of traitor speeches,” Herzog said.
“We shouldn’t be harming ourselves. We can capture the heart of the nation if we
don’t allow ourselves to get bogged down in minutia.”
to respond to Peretz. She praised the deal with Eini, calling it “paved in