Netanyahu compliments Labor team

Likud head says Labor has good people who are wrong on diplomatic issues.

By SHEERA CLAIRE FRENKEL, JPOST STAFF
January 17, 2006 00:32
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Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu complimented the Labor Knesset list hours after the official results of its primaries were announced. "The question is where they want to lead us," Netanyahu told reporters ahead of a meeting with Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos. "Labor at least says honestly that they intend to retreat more or less to the '67 lines. Kadima doesn't say it but that's what they intend to do." Labor's Knesset list was declared on Wednesday morning after a close race between MKs Isaac Herzog and Ophir Paz-Pines. Herzog took the lead - and the second place on the Labor list - behind Party Chairman Amir Peretz. Paz-Pines was left in third place.

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Opening the Labor meeting convened for the occasion, Labor Secretary-General Eitan Cabel read the list of candidates for the 17th Knesset in the order in which they were voted, not taking into account party agreements that guaranteed various members certain positions. Next on the list following Paz-Pines were Ben Gurion University President Avishay Braverman, former Shin Bet chief Ami Ayalon, and MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer. The top slots in Labor were expected to make up Peretz's "beehive" - the Labor leaders who would be appointed ministers if the party participates in the next government.
(1) Amir Peretz (2) Isaac Herzog (3) Ophir Paz-Pines (4) Avishai Braverman (5) Yuli Tamir(6) Ami Ayalon (7) Eitan Cabel (8) Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (9) Shelly Yehimovich (10) Rabbi Michael Melchior
MK Yuli Tamir was voted after Ben Eliezer, but because of party agreements, she was placed in the fifth slot, reserved for a woman. Following Tamir was MK Matan Vilnai, who, although he was ranked eighth in the vote, was placed in the 11th slot due to Shelly Yehimovich and Rabbi Michael Melcior taking the positions guaranteed to women and to a representative of the Meimad faction, respectively. Vilnai blasted his own party though on Wednesday, saying that almost every senior party member "tried to get rid of me, but failed in their mission." Other guaranteed slots started at the 17th place with a representative of the kibbutzim, representatives of Arabs, Druze, youth, retired persons, and different districts were also placed at lower positions on the list.
(11) Matan Vilnai (12) Collette Avital (13) Ephraim Sneh (14) Danny Yatom (15) Nadia Hilu(16) Shalom Simhon (17) Orit Noked (18) Yoram Marciano (19) Raleb Majadele (20) Shakeef Shanen
Peretz, who has taken a lot of criticism for being inexperienced in handling security and diplomatic issues, addressed the convention after Cabel, focusing on the collective skills of the party, rather than his own. "Standing here are the best people in all fields, in all issues. There is no issue for which we do not have an unequivocal answer," he asserted. "There are people here who know how to deal with security better than anyone else." He also noted the credentials of colleagues in running negotiations and diplomacy. The party chairman especially stressed that the people standing on the stage alongside him knew how to deal with "personal security in the full sense of the word," including socioeconomic security. Peretz said that the group selected would form the next government and change Israel's priorities in favor of education, health care, and welfare. Herzog, in an interview with Channel 10, complimented the new Labor constellation. "Where else is there a list that includes two academic figures, and many generals?" he asked. "It's a great list." The generals to whom he referred were MKs Danny Yatom, Matan Vilnai, and Ephraim Sneh, as well as the newcomer Ami Ayalon. Many Labor figures, including Herzog, expressed a great desire to add former chief of general staff and prime minister Ehud Barak. However, Herzog noted that he would leave it to Peretz and Barak to work things out. The two other major parties expressed their disdain at the new Labor list. "Labor decided to surround its inexperienced leader with other inexperienced people who have only one thing in common, and that's the desire to succeed Amir Peretz even before the election, knowing full well that the job is too big for him," a Kadima spokesman said. Both Kadima and Likud accused the former Histadrut chairman of overwhelming his party with union workers in order to support him. Minutes before the voting stations closed at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, the Ramat Aviv voting site saw a surprise visit from three top female candidates who hoped to drum up last minute support. Party members came out to vote Tuesday amid allegations of fraud, favoritism, and back-room deals. Despite the poor weather and Labor's recent drop in the polls, 60% of the party's 116, 948 members voted - or some 68,000 voters. "I think it reflects well on us that despite the downward trend in the polls we had such a high turnout rate," said a spokeswoman.

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