Labor: Peretz's departure a blessing in disguise

Yacimovich says there is a new low of cronyism in politics; Oppenheimer, Yona demand higher spot on list in contested vote.

Shelly Yacimovich at Labor Central Committee 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Shelly Yacimovich at Labor Central Committee 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Labor put on a brave face after former party leader Amir Peretz left for The Tzipi Livni Party on Thursday, saying it would not hurt the party.
“The public is shocked by the new low in politics,” Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich said at a party conference in Tel Aviv. “We won’t give in to opportunism, cronyism and spins.”
“This game of musical chairs is about anything but values. The public deserves better, deserves politicians that can serve and lead them. Labor has normal politics, based on a real agenda and democracy,” she added.
A senior Labor source said Yacimovich is happy to see Peretz go, rather than have him undermine her and the party’s campaign.
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Click for full JPost coverage
“Peretz is Livni’s headache now. She can enjoy him,” the source said.
Labor’s central committee met on Thursday evening to vote on the party’s list and platform for the 19th Knesset, hours before the Central Election Committee’s 10 p.m. deadline.
As the conference opened, Labor secretary-general Hilik Bar, a candidate for the next Knesset, compared Peretz’s departure to the biblical story of Balak, who sought to curse the Israelites, but ended up blessing them. He said those who want to harm Labor end up only helping, and made a dig at Livni’s “party of refugees.”
MK Eitan Cabel, a close ally of Peretz, called the latter’s move “painful,” but said Labor is his home, and he will not leave even when it is difficult or uncomfortable.
“What Peretz did is inappropriate from an ideological and moral perspective. Just a week ago, Labor voters gave him support, and he threw it in the trash,” Cabel stated.
“Labor was and remains the only alternative to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government with or without Peretz.”
According to MK Isaac Herzog, second on the Labor list, Peretz’s actions are “a new record of political opportunism.”
“Peretz abandoned Labor for a party of refugees from other parties that did not succeed and couldn’t accept the results,” Herzog added. “The future of The Tzipi Livni Party will be like other centrist parties, but much quicker.”
MK Nachman Shai, who left Kadima to run in the Labor primary, said Livni and Peretz are performing political harakiri, and going against the national interest, which would be to unite the Centrist camp.
Instead, Shai added, they are giving Netanyahu another term as prime minister.
The vote on Labor’s list for the next Knesset, which was expected to go smoothly before Peretz’s departure, became controversial after former Peace Now secretarygeneral Yariv Oppenheimer petitioned the party so he would be put in a realistic spot.
Yacimovich suggested that everyone on the list be moved up one spot, so that it could be changed quickly and easily in time for the Central Election Committee deadline.
Oppenheimer demanded that the party compile its list according to its regulations, with guaranteed representation slots, which would move him up a slot. Professor Yossi Yona, who said he would be moved from the 20th spot to the 17th, joined his demand.
After a noisy vote by show of hands, with Oppenheimer supporters chanting “democracy, democracy,” Yacimovich’s suggestion was approved.
However, Oppenheimer’s supporters would not let up, booing and chanting “count, count,” until Bar agreed to hold a re-vote and count the raised hands, despite his concern about bringing the list to the Knesset on time.
In the second vote, Yacimovich’s proposal was approved with nearly twice as many votes, and she thanked Oppenheimer’s supporters for their insistence on a democratic process.