Amir Peretz .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The candidates in Tuesday’s Labor primary will make their final preparations on Monday for what could be a close race to head the party that ruled Israel for decades.
They must win 40% of the ballots cast by the 65,337 party members in order to avoid a second round of voting next Tuesday.
MK Amir Peretz, who is leading in internal polls, promised at an event at his campaign headquarters on Sunday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not get reelected if Peretz becomes Labor leader.
Peretz explained his prediction, saying he believes that he can woo enough votes on the Right to prevent Netanyahu from being able to form a government. Peretz said he would lead Labor from its current six seats to 15 by winning support from voters to the Right of Labor.
The sources of new mandates for Labor include Blue and White, Likud, Kulanu and Gesher, Peretz said.
“Labor must work with full force to return to being a central force and the ideological alternative to the Right,” he told his supporters. “If I will be elected
Tuesday, soon Bibi will no longer be prime minister.”
The event, which showcased Peretz’s wide backing within the party, was attended by former MKs Ophir Paz-Pines, Nachman Shai, Avraham Shochat, Efi Oshaya, Revital Swid, Raleb Majadle, Omer Bar Lev, Lea Fadida, Saleh Saad, Daniel Ben-Simon, Hilik Bar, Eli Ben-Menachem, Raanan Cohen, Ephraim Sneh, Avi Yehezkel, Yossi Yonah and Uzi Baram.
Labor secretary-general Eran Hermoni, who has been purposely neutral in past Labor races, made a point of coming to Peretz’s event and endorsing him. Conspicuously absent was outgoing Labor chairman Avi Gabbay, who is thought to also prefer Peretz as his successor but has not made an endorsement.
Fellow Labor leadership contender Itzik Shmuli received a key endorsement from Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai on Sunday. Shmuli originally made a name for himself in the socioeconomic protests on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard in the summer of 2011 that were backed by the mayor.
Leadership candidate Stav Shaffir, who was also one of the leaders of the protests, wrote on social media on Sunday that the race between the 67-year-old Peretz, the 39-year-old Shmuli and the 34-year-old Shaffir is not about age, but about ideology.
“The choice in Labor is clearer than ever,” Shaffir wrote on Twitter. “Either embark on a new path that brings hope, or continue the old ways that destroyed the party. Labor is so important to me that I must fight for it. A vote for Shmuli is a vote for Peretz and vice versa. It is a vote against change.”
Shaffir received an endorsement on Sunday from Rabbi Gilad Kariv, who heads the Reform movement in Israel and is a Knesset candidate in Labor.
“For many years, Stav stood beside us in our struggle against religious extremism, intolerance and incitement against the non-Orthodox communities,” Kariv said. “She took it upon herself to build bridges with the Jewish Diaspora and correct their impression that Israel has turned its back on them.”
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