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In a surprise move, the Labor Party House Committee vote to change its electoral process resulted in a tie on Sunday evening.
Since the 116-member committee was unable to reach a conclusive decision, the vote will be brought to a larger committee of nearly 800 members on Thursday.
"We were surprised by this highly unusual tie," said a Labor Party official. "But many people, especially newer members, came out to support it."
The Labor Party is currently the only one in which candidates are elected by all 120,000 registered members of the party. The proposed change would create a system like that of the other parties, where an internal party committee chooses the Knesset list.
Many high-ranking Labor members, such as House Committee chairman Shalom Simhon and Labor Secretary-General Eitan Cabel, have spoken out against the change, arguing that it is too late in the electoral process for such a drastic modification.
"You can't change the rules of the game when you are in the middle of the game," said Simhon. "More than 120,000 Labor members have registered and paid to vote, how could we change the system now?"
However, new party members, such as Orna Angel, an aide to former prime minister Ehud Barak, have argued that the current system makes it nearly impossible for new members to campaign to so large a body.
Meanwhile, high-ranking Labor officials said that they had been approached regarding the formation of a coalition with members of Likud, Shas, National Union, and United Torah Judaism. If such a coalition could be formed with at least 61 members before December 29 and put forward an alternative candidate for prime minister, that candidate would become prime minister pending approval by President Moshe Katsav.
While this possibility has been stressed as highly unlikely, the Labor officials said that it was still being broached.
Last week, an aide to Labor Party Chairman Amir Peretz said representatives had approached Peretz to become the candidate of such a coalition. The aide added that Peretz had turned down the offer due to differening political agendas.
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