Ayalon: I won the Jewish vote

Barak received twice as many votes in the Arab sector as Ayalon, and he trounced him among the party's Druse members.

ayalon votes 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
ayalon votes 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
MK Ami Ayalon, who came in second to former prime minister Ehud Barak in Monday's Labor primary and will face off against him in a June 12 runoff, slammed Barak on Tuesday for taking advantage of the votes of Israeli Arabs. Sources close to Ayalon pointed out that even though Barak received more votes overall, 23,887 to 20,514, Ayalon received more votes among Jewish voters. Barak received twice as many votes in the Arab sector as Ayalon, and he trounced him among the party's Druse members. "The Arabs won it for Barak," Ayalon has been saying in private conversations. A source close to Barak lashed out at Ayalon for the statements, saying "This is the most racist and insulting statement possible from Labor's most left-wing MK, and it proves how inexperienced he is." Former OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amiram Levine and other Ayalon associates accused National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer of relying on Arab vote contractors to get votes for Barak. After Levine made the accusation on Army Radio, Ben-Eliezer asked him and Ayalon to apologize for "baselessly staining an entire sector of the Labor Party." An aide to Ayalon said that if the results of Monday's race had been extremely close, the Ayalon camp would have demanded an investigation of the voting at polling stations in Arab communities. Overall, 67,454 of the Labor Party's 103,568 members cast ballots, a turnout of more than 65 percent. Barak won 35.6% of the vote, followed by Ayalon with 30.6%, Defense Minister Amir Peretz at 22.4%, MK Ophir Paz-Pines at 8% and MK Danny Yatom with 2.7%. The results were announced at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday by retired judge Amnon Straschnov, the chairman of Labor's central elections committee, after the last votes, from Sderot, were counted. Sderot voted overwhelmingly for native son Peretz, giving him 688 votes. Ayalon finished second in the town with 46 votes and Barak third with 20. Barak won the North, moshav and Druse sectors, Ayalon won the kibbutzim and the three largest cities, and Peretz won the South and Arab sectors. Ayalon won at Kibbutz Sdot Yam, where Barak held a high-profile press conference three weeks ago. The primary carved its niche in Labor history by becoming the first time a second round of voting was necessary to decide the party leader.