Ayalon statements stir tempers

"I killed many Arabs, probably more than Hamas fighters killed Jews," he said.

ami ayalon stern 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
ami ayalon stern 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Labor would be winning the national elections had Shimon Peres won the Labor Chairmanship and led the party, Ehud Barak surmised on Sunday night. Barak, who has openly clashed with Labor Chairman Amir Peretz since the Labor primaries in December, recently returned to the party after a long hiatus abroad. Although many had criticized Peretz for not keeping Peres in the party, Barak's participation in the current elections had become increasingly controversial after senior Labor officials questioned his allegiance to the party. "Why do we need Barak," asked one high-ranking Labor member. "He's with us, he's not, he helps us, he hurts us. Who needs this?" Barak loyalist MK Shalom Simhon, however, said that Barak's renewed participation in the party was a sign of hope. Meanwhile, tempers flared Sunday over a statement by Labor candidate and Former Shin Bet chief Ami Ayalon Sunday. "I killed many Arabs, probably more than Hamas fighters killed Jews, and more than anybody else, but all in order to protect Israeli lives," said Ayalon during an interview with the British newspaper The Sunday Times. Meretz MK Zahava Gal-On called the comments "distressing," and "worrying," while a Likud spokesman dismissed Ayalon as "not relevant." Ayalon criticized the article Sunday by claiming that his statements were taken out of context, and made to sound as though he was boasting. The dovish candidate has spoken openly about his past, which Labor Chairman Amir Peretz has touted as the "strongest defense portfolio of all the candidates." Meanwhile the incident also renewed debate at Labor Party headquarters over the issue of ministerial posts. Although Peretz has refused to comment on who he would promote as ministers in the next government, a Labor Party official said that the jockeying for positions had already begun. Peretz would assume the right to assign the posts only if he won the election, a victory which seems unlikely due to Labor's poor showing in the polls. If Peretz loses the election, internal Labor laws dictate that the Labor central committee would choose the candidates to receive ministerial posts based on their own vote. "It seems likely that it will be the central committee handing out the posts," said one high-ranking Labor candidate. "They have their own interest and what they are promoting. It might be surprising whom they choose."