Barak loyalists to Peretz: put him high on Labor list

Hours after former prime minister Ehud Barak declared himself a "Labor man" Thursday, a small group of his loyalists within the party presented chairman Amir Peretz with a letter demanding that Barak receive a top spot on the party's Knesset list. The letter was written by Shalom Simhon and Ze'ev (Velvale) Shor and was signed by six other Labor officials. The deadline for submitting the list of candidates to the Central Elections Committee is February 8. "I think that Peretz has been clear on this issue," said a Labor Party spokesman. "The list we have was chosen in a democratic way, We have our list." Earlier in the week, there were rumors that Barak had requested to join a joint party led by former Shinui MK Avraham Poraz and Tafnit Chairman Uzi Dayan. Barak's associates said the initiative to get Barak to lead a conglomeration of parties in the March 28 election began at the request of Poraz. Dayan later joined the initiative, but insisted all along that he lead the list and that it run under the Tafnit banner. Barak reportedly commissioned polls about the possibility of running with Tafnit and former Shinui MKs, and Shinui officials said the polls found that Barak would take away more support than he would bring. Tafnit will hold a meeting on Sunday to decide whether the party should join with the remnants of Shinui. Dayan met on Thursday morning with Shinui leader Ron Leventhal and the only two MKs left in the party, Ehud Rassabi and Ilan Leibovitch, and discussed the possibility of running together. The Shinui officials said they would be prepared to run under Dayan's leadership. Meanwhile, several MKs who left Shinui will meet on Friday with Democratic Choice MK Roman Bronfman to discuss the possibility of running with his list.