Labor candidates spar over former Likudniks

Labor leadership candidate Shelly Yacimovich, perceived front-runner for party chairman, MK Amir Peretz call each other 'criminal.'

Shelly Yacimovich (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Shelly Yacimovich
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Labor leadership candidates Shelly Yacimovich and Amram Mitzna filed an appeal to the party’s election committee on Sunday, asking to disqualify some 5,000 Likud and Kadima members who shifted to Labor in its recent registration drive.
It is illegal to be a member of two parties. Despite the law, 4,248 members of the Likud or Kadima tried to join Labor without leaving their old party. Rather than disqualify them, Labor sent them forms asking them which party they preferred and assisting them in shifting to Labor.
In addition, 823 Likud and Kadima members joined Labor while submitting a form asking the Labor administration to handle the process of canceling their membership in their former party.
Yacimovich and Mitzna wrote in their appeal that neither of those groups of registrants were handled according to proper procedures and that they must all be disqualified.
“We cannot whitewash a violation of the law with a ceremony of kosher certification,” Yacimovich said. “As candidates, we have an obligation to ensure the membership drive will be legal, clean and authentic and maintain the democratic rules of the game.”
A decision is expected by Monday on the appeal, which is seen as an attempt by Yacimovich and Mitzna to harm the perceived front-runner for party chairman, MK Amir Peretz, who signed up by far the greatest number of new Labor members in the drive.
Peretz asked the election committee via his attorney, former MK Yossi Katz, to enable him to respond to the appeal.
“Mitzna and Yacimovich are trying to turn Labor into a closed club that slams the door on new populations that are the party’s hope,” Peretz said.
“There must be a limit to the cynical, political considerations that have made a shidduch [match] between two candidates who had previously been ruthlessly attacking each other.”
At a meeting of the election committee on Thursday, Yacimovich accused Peretz and election committee chairman Ra’anan Cohen of “cooperating in a criminal act” by trying to enter the former Likud and Kadima members into Labor’s membership rolls.

An angry Peretz responded to Yacimovich that “the only criminal at this table is you,” blaming her for leaking partial lists of Labor members to the media, which used them for reports that made Labor and especially Peretz look bad.
Yacimovich denied that she was behind the leaks.