Labor-Gesher makes final push to clear electoral threshold

Peretz: Election is between Yitzhak Rabin and his assassin Yigal Amir, “peace camp” is returning to Labor.

Amir Peretz sports a new look – without his trademark moustache (photo credit: NIR ELIAS / REUTERS)
Amir Peretz sports a new look – without his trademark moustache
(photo credit: NIR ELIAS / REUTERS)
Labor-Gesher made last-ditch attempts to boost voter turnout and increase its support on Monday, as final election polls were steady in forecasting perilously low numbers for the movement that governed Israel for its first 29 years.
The party’s average in the final week of election polling was 4.7 seats, with four being the smallest amount of seats a party could get after passing the 3.25% electoral threshold.
Labor chairman Amir Peretz said that this week’s election is one of utmost urgency: “The vote tomorrow is between a country of [Itamar] Ben-Gvir and Yigal Amir or a country of [David] Ben-Gurion and Yitzhak Rabin.” Meaning, between the chairman of extremist Otzma Yehudit and former prime minister Rabin’s assassin, or Israel’s first and fifth prime ministers, both from the Labor Party.
Peretz told KAN Bet that “attempts to crush the Labor Party” will not work.
“These days, many from the peace camp are returning home [to Labor]. Erasing us is the only way Netanyahu can ensure his immunity” from prosecution, he warned.
A party insider told The Jerusalem Post that Labor activists have been going door-to-door to try to motivate voters to go to the polls.
Peretz has made a point of campaigning in the Arab sector, which had an especially low turnout in April’s election. MK Itzik Shmuli, who is behind various initiatives to help pensioners, campaigned among senior citizens, and Gesher leader Orly Levy-Abecassis has targeted female voters.
The feeling in the party, the source said, is that the message – that Labor is in danger of falling below the electoral threshold – is bringing in more support.
“People don’t want Labor to be erased,” the insider said. “We are explaining that we need a strong Labor Party. If we don’t pass the threshold, [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] will get recommendations from 61 MKs.”
Labor also plans to focus on an anti-Netanyahu message in the next day.
On Sunday, the party held a final election rally, mostly filling the Wohl Amphitheater in Tel Aviv, which holds nearly 1,000 people.
Peretz told the story of his injury at the Mitla Pass in 1974, to try to motivate the crowd.
“When I was young, I was crushed by an armed personal carrier in the IDF,” he recounted. “When the doctors suggested to cut off my feet, I said that I will not give up… Pessimistic people change nothing in their lives. Cynics do not build anything. Those who are determined, optimistic – those who do not give up – win in the end.”
Peretz also met his wife, Achlama, while in the two-year recovery period from his injury. Today, Peretz walks on two feet with a slight limp.