After Likud drama, stage set for Labor

Polls find Peres in comfortable lead ahead of Wednesday's primaries.

peres waiving finger 88 (photo credit: )
peres waiving finger 88
(photo credit: )
A day after tensions in the Likud neared a boiling point as the Opposition, boosted by eight Likud rebels, rejected two of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's cabinet appointments, the focus is shifting to Labor ahead of Wednesday's Labor leadership primary. Labor Secretary-General Eitan Cabel told reporters on Monday afternoon that he was concerned that there could be disturbances at Labor polling stations due to disagreements over who would be allowed to vote. Cabel disqualified some 30,000 Labor members from voting in the race due to complications with membership forms. The final number of Labor members eligible to vote on Wednesday is 100,474. "The most important thing is for the elections to be run in order. I am ready for a situation in which people who weren't in the book, who may, in an organized or spontaneous way, try to disrupt the elections," Cabel said. "We will have unprecedented security in and around the polling stations to ensure an election that is fair and proper. I have no information and I haven't hired any detectives but it only makes sense, and people are human. This is what worries me more than anything because the candidates and the party as a whole could be damaged," he added. According to Cabel, "Labor has made it through a difficult period; all the necessary checks were done and our membership rolls are the cleanest of any party and the cleanest it has ever been in Labor." After Science Minister Matan Vilna'i quit the race and joined Shimon Peres's camp, polls published in both Ma'ariv and Yediot Aharonot on Tuesday found that Peres would defeat challenger Amir Peretz by 18 percent and 11%, respectively. Peretz promised that the election would bring "the biggest surprise in Israeli political history." The polls will open at 10 a.m. in 318 polling stations and will close at 8 p.m. Results are expected by 10:30 p.m.