Tempers flared in an early morning meeting Thursday when Labor candidate Binyamin Ben-Eliezer lashed out at Labor Chairman Amir Peretz for pushing the party into a leftist agenda.
Ben-Eliezer claimed that Peretz was pushing the same four or five people into the media spotlight, and that those candidates were adopting an agenda farther to the left than the majority of Labor's constituency.
While those candidates were not named at the meeting, a Labor official speculated that Ben-Eliezer was referring to Shelly Yachimovic, Avishay Braverman, Eitan Cabel, Isaac Herzog, and Ophir Paz-Pines.
A Labor Party official said that Ben-Eliezer added that veteran Labor members were concerned over the party's slogan, "Olmert, dividing the rich and poor." "The slogan is unnecessarily critical of those from upper classes," Ben-Eliezer was quoted as announcing in the meeting. He thought that the slogan should focus on Olmert hurting the poor, without the criticism of the rich.
A Labor Party official pointed out that the slogan had been chosen by a group of Labor Party officials, and Peretz did not control which candidates spoke with the media.
Ben-Eliezer had clashed with Peretz several times since his he became Labor chairman. In the race for the primaries, Ben-Eliezer has criticized Peretz for promoting "favorites" Yachimovic and Braverman. Following the primaries, Ben-Eliezer was also reportedly upset that he had not received a spot in the top five of the party list.
Meanwhile, Palestinian sources told Israel Radio Thursday that Peretz had requested a meeting with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. A spokeswoman for Peretz could not confirm the report, but Peretz had announced his interest in meeting with the Palestinian leader earlier this week. On Tuesday, following a meeting in Egypt, Peretz expressed interest in strengthening "moderate elements" in Palestinian society, such as Abbas.
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.