Peretz calls Eini 'traitor' at Labor convention

Party votes to back Eini's re-election as Histadrut chief; Peretz slams Eini for selling factory to millionaire.

311_ amir peretz (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post))
311_ amir peretz
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post))
The first Labor Party convention under the leadership of chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich turned ugly on Wednesday as MK Amir Peretz used the stage at the Tel Aviv Soldiers’ House to call his political foe, Histadrut labor federation chief Ofer Eini, a traitor.
Labor central committee members convened to pass a proposal backed by Yacimovich to endorse Eini’s reelection bid in May. In an angry speech that was repeatedly stopped by heckling, Peretz pleaded with the central committee members to “avoid falling into Eini’s honey trap before it’s too late” to reject Yacimovich’s deal.
“I don’t doubt the party chairwoman when she says she believes in democracy, but I advise everyone not to make holy the majority,” Peretz told the loud, packed auditorium.
“There were regimes where majorities enabled them to do terrible things.”
Peretz recalled that it was he who brought Eini to power in the Histadrut as his replacement when he left to lead Labor in 2005. Eini then purged the Histadrut of Peretz’s loyalists and used the labor union to fight against him.
“They say I want to take revenge on Ofer Eini for his big betrayal,” Peretz said.
“They say I raised him and brought him to power and he betrayed me. That’s correct. I don’t like traitors and neither do you. They say I signed the first deal with him when I was chairman of Labor. If I am responsible for this sin, I feel I must take action to fix it.”
Peretz accused Eini of enabling the sale of an Israeli factory to a millionaire who will move its jobs to China.
He said Eini was thrown out of this summer’s socioeconomic protest because of his ties to tycoons. He disputed statements made by other speakers at the event that Eini was part of Labor even though he heads a list called Ogen that is independent of the party.
“They say Ofer Eini is the flesh of Labor’s flesh,” Peretz said. “I ask you, when have you seen Ofer Eini tell people to vote Labor? When have you seen him at a rally for peace? He hasn’t done anything for this party. He only uses Labor as a plaything and comes to events of the party to call its chairman ‘an idiot’ [a statement he made when Ehud Barak headed Labor].
When the head of the convention, former justice minister David Libai, prevented Peretz from finishing his speech, which ran overtime due to the heckling, the MK left the auditorium in anger and took his supporters with him.
“There was no point in staying in a place where they silence people and vote on a done deal,” Peretz’s spokeswoman said.
The Eini endorsement passed by a wide margin, thanks to the support of Yacimovich and MKs Isaac Herzog and Binyamin Ben-Eliezer. Herzog used his speech to plead for unity in the party.
“Labor is sick of traitor speeches,” Herzog said. “We shouldn’t be harming ourselves. We can capture the heart of the nation if we don’t allow ourselves to get bogged down in minutia.”
Yacimovich declined to respond to Peretz. She praised the deal with Eini, calling it “paved in gold.”