amir peretz 298.88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
For almost one week, the Labor Party has been running its race with no campaign manager, the result of the recent departures of Motti Morel and Ronen Tzur.
During that time, Chairman Amir Peretz has made few public appearances. While Labor aides claimed Peretz was quelling accusations that he has endorsed an inner party of "favorites" ahead of the Tuesday primary, others are calling his absence a sign of rocky stewardship.
"The truth is that Amir Peretz is in a difficult situation. He is a very strong-willed man and people are resisting entering into public roles in his campaign," charged Tzur. "A few months ago, when he was higher in the polls, he would have had no problem finding a manager. He is an intelligent man, and many of his ideas are very good. He needs to get organized."
Speaking at Ben-Gurion University Sunday night, Morel said that if Peretz were more moderate, he could get 33 mandates.
A high-ranking Labor Party candidate said now was not the time for Peretz to step into the shadows. "He should be talking about issues and raising general morale for the party," said the candidate.
Meanwhile, new candidates presented Peretz with platforms outlining the stances they believed the party should assume. While an aide to Peretz said that most of the platforms dealt with socio-economic matters, a report by former Shimon Peres aide Anat Wils outlined a diplomatic plan with a special emphasis on defense issues. Peretz has been accused of ignoring these issues in favor of others that he feels more comfortable discussing.
Wils said that many of the ideas behind her proposed platform were formulated during work she did with Peres. "My platform is called 'back to back,' and the main idea is that Israel must take immediate steps to ensure its future as the homeland of the Jewish people," she said.
The first step of her platform calls for Israel to take the initiative and define the security fence as the eastern border of Israel, disengaging from settlements to the east of that fence.
"I based many of my proposals on insight I gathered by working as a coordinator during the disengagement," said Wils. "To be honest, they don't depart a lot from the policies of Shimon Peres. We all agree on a combination of unilateral steps and compromises where possible."
Wils hoped that her platform would be adopted by Peretz, who has not yet taken a strong stand on security issues. An aide to Peretz, however, said he was occupied by the primary and would not be reading over the platform until later in the week.
In the past, Peretz has criticized Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's decision to conduct the disengagement unilaterally, and has announced his intention to seek a "partner for peace" with the Palestinians.
Although the final list of Labor Party candidates will be chosen during the Tuesday vote, speculation at the Tel Aviv party headquarters focused on the order of the list. MKs Ophir Paz-Pines, Isaac Herzog, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and Yuli Tamir, Ben-Gurion University President Avishay Braverman and former Jerusalem police chief Ami Ayalon were all considered contenders for the top five spots.
Meanwhile, candidates with strong ties to former prime ministers Ehud Barak and Shimon Peres, both of whom have recently distanced themselves from the Labor Party, were expected to have poorer showings in the polls.