Histadrut chair Ofer Eini at Labor Court_311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Weeks of mutual recriminations in the Histadrut Labor Federation leadership race
are expected to hit their peak on Wednesday when the candidates come to a
hearing before an internal Histadrut court in Tel Aviv.
chairman Ofer Eini has accused his challengers, Labor MKs Amir Peretz and Eitan
Cabel, of forging the signatures of hundreds of Histadrut members on forms
enabling them to run. The Histadrut elections committee warned last week that if
Peretz and Cabel did not prove otherwise at Wednesday’s hearing, the committee
would file criminal charges against them.
Peretz and Cabel have countered
with proof that Histadrut officials bullied labor union members to rescind their
signatures from the forms and hired a firm that did sloppy work in calling the
workers and checking whether they signed. The two MKs have threatened to sue the
elections committee for libeling them.
Lawyers for Peretz are demanding
that the head of the elections committee, attorney Tal Keret, be fired and the
committee be dissolved due to what they called undemocratic management, improper
work methods and a lack of objectivity.
Peretz’s lawyers complained that
there are no representatives loyal to either MK on the elections committee,
which they said was controlled by Eini. They said the committee was not
permitted to hire a firm to verify the signatures.
Eini was not required
to submit signatures while his challengers were required to submit 5000 even
though running for Knesset only requires 100. Peretz submitted 9000 and less
than 1000 signatures were called into question.
“Ofer Eini is acting like
dictator and a bully,” Peretz’s spokeswoman said.
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“He is afraid of facing
off against any candidate because he knows the workers are sick of
Peretz’s associates said they expected the court to permit both
Peretz and Cabel to run. Next week, the Tel Aviv District Court will decide
whether Cabel’s candidacy is permitted even though he did not pay Histadrut
membership dues for enough time.
If Cabel is permitted to run by the
external court, Peretz has said he would drop out of the race and unite behind
him in an effort to defeat Eini, his political nemesis.
A spokesman for
Eini denied Peretz and Cabel’s charges against him. Election committee spokesman
Maayan Naveh said the hearing would be fair and all the charges would be
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