Yacimovich, Peretz expected to settle party differences

Peretz warned Yacimovich to “avoid [Binyamin] Netanyahu’s embrace” and keep the Labor party in the opposition.

Shelly Yacimovich at Labor HQ 311 (photo credit: Gil Hoffman)
Shelly Yacimovich at Labor HQ 311
(photo credit: Gil Hoffman)
Newly-elected Labor chairman Shelly Yacimovich will meet with her former political patron and current arch rival, MK Amir Peretz, on Tuesday in an effort to mend fences.
Yacimovich and Peretz, who were once close, sparred frequently throughout the eight-month campaign. But they will need to work together now in order to prevent a second split in Labor, which already lost five MKs when Defense Minister Ehud Barak and four of his allies left in January.
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Peretz sent an olive branch to Yacimovich at an event he held to thank his supporters at Tel Aviv’s kibbutz seminar center. But he conditioned his support on her running the party properly and not in the autocratic style of Barak.
“Shelly, you have a tremendous responsibility,” Peretz said. “We are stretching our hand to you. If you lead transparently, you will find disciplined partners who will stand with you in the struggles ahead.”
Peretz warned Yacimovich to “avoid [Binyamin] Netanyahu’s embrace” and keep the party in the opposition. He expressed concern that the results of the race showed that opposite sectors backed the two candidates with very little overlap.
“The results show Israeli society is diverse and stays in its camp,” Peretz said. “It would be very easy to take steps that would deepen that rift, but we shouldn’t.”
Peretz noted how far he came from the political desert following the Winograd Report that deemed his handling of the Second Lebanon War a failure and his subsequent ouster from the party chairmanship and Defense Ministry by Barak.
“No one could have achieved what we did, considering where we were before,” he told the activists. “We are in a position where we can work and dream.”
Labor MKs Eitan Cabel, Ghaleb Majadle and Daniel Ben-Simon, who backed Peretz throughout the campaign, and MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who supported him behind the scenes, came to show support.
“Don’t be confused – Amir, you won the race,” Ben-Eliezer said. “You are one of Labor’s stars. From now on, the stage is for you and Shelly. You have to work together. Short of marrying you, I will do everything possible to get you to live together.”
At a pre-Rosh Hashana toast of Barak’s Independence Party, Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Shalom Simhon mocked Ben-Eliezer and noted that he once told him that Yacimovich was “a turbine of hate” and that now he will have to surrender to her will.