(photo credit: AP)
Police will probe allegations of forgeries in the Arab and Druse sectors in last week's Labor primary, chairman of the party's central elections committee, former judge Amnon Straschnov, announced Sunday.
In the third straight Labor primary in which police have become involved, Straschnov forwarded to the head of the police's investigations and intelligence division, Cmdr. Yohanan Danino, four cases of alleged forgeries that were reported on Channel 10 and asked for a thorough investigation.
Straschnov told the police that following an internal Labor investigation, "unkosher and illegal activities" took place and that there were suspicions of forgeries. In the polling stations in question, people were caught voting twice, a man voted dressed as a woman and hundreds of votes were recorded where only a few dozen people had voted.
Labor MK Ami Ayalon, who lost the race, said he would not appeal the results, but he wanted the matter investigated properly so the party could become clean. Political rivals of new Labor Chairman Ehud Barak accused him of rushing to hold a victory party on Sunday and become defense minister on Monday in order to create facts on the ground ahead of the police investigation.
"It's very sad that in a party that wants to rule again, 50 vote contractors decide who our defense minister will be," a Barak opponent in Labor said. "Barak complained about [former Labor chairman Amir] Peretz's forgeries when it was convenient for him, and now he's being silent, because he benefited from the forgeries."
Barak's rivals also slammed him for entering the Defense Ministry without keeping his promises to fight for portfolios for Peretz and Ayalon and to start working to topple the prime minister. Barak told Labor MKs Friday that he had raised his demand for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to quit in his meeting with the prime minister that morning, but Olmert's office denied this.
In a rally celebrating his victory at Labor's Tel Aviv headquarters, Barak re-issued the same promises. He said he felt the need to enter the Defense Ministry as soon as possible because of the events in the Gaza Strip.
"When Olmert comes back from Washington, I will start coalition negotiations for Labor's portfolios in the government," Barak told the crowd. "I stand behind what I said in Kibbutz Sdot Yam that the prime minister will have to quit by the time the final Winograd report is published and I will act to advance the election."
Barak's loyalists mocked Peretz for protesting Barak's decision to replace him immediately.
"[Peretz] should top whining and playing games of respect," National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said on Army Radio. "No one tried to harm him. He harmed himself."
Peretz announced on Monday that he was planning a socioeconomic convention of 1,000 people who would pressure Olmert to give him a good portfolio.
Barak's appointment as defense minister is expected to be passed in the Knesset on Monday. He will then be sworn in and a ceremony marking the change of power in the Defense Ministry will be held on Tuesday.
Barak is expected to announce soon that he would replace Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh with MK Matan Vilna'i, a former IDF deputy Chief of General Staff, who backed Barak in the primary.