Peretz criticizes former finance minister's economic policy, says the results of this agenda drowned out the simple worker.
By SHELLY PAZ
Labor chairman Ehud Barak and his predecessor Amir Peretz have joined forces in a campaign against Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu's economic agenda.
"The slogan 'Let your money work for you' turned out to be 'Your money is gone,' because someone played with our money," Peretz told hundreds of supporters at a rally in the party's Tel Aviv headquarters Sunday evening.
The former Labor chairman opened the rally by saying this evening was meant as an attempt to remove all doubts and to send a "message of unity" to the various camps within the party. He noted the olive branch he had offered political rival Barak two weeks ago at the party's central committee meeting in Tel Aviv, a peace gesture Barak had accepted.
"What started in the Labor central committee as a unity between leading figures becomes unity for all Labor's groups and camps for the sake of the party and for the sake of the State of Israel," Peretz said.
Peretz added that the parade of "stars" joining the Likud wouldn't have taken place if the polls had looked different.
"Where were all these new members three years ago when Likud collapsed and got only 12 Knesset seats?" Peretz asked.
He went on to criticize former finance minister Netanyahu's economic policy, saying that the results of this agenda had drowned out the simple worker.
"They told everyone, why should only you work? Let your money work, too. Put it in a savings fund and it will work for you while you're sound asleep. These people can't close their eyes now - their sleep is disturbed and full of nightmares because this slogan turned from money that works to money that is lost," Peretz said.
Peretz suggested that the Labor Party would be the first party to give up salary increases for senior members.
"That can be an important move for us," he said, drawing applause from the crowd. "The public expects us to set a personal example, and that can be a [step toward] different public relations."
Barak, who also attended the rally, praised Peretz for his gesture of two weeks ago, and told him he was moved by his calls for unity.
"The party is not your private business, nor mine. We are talking about the future of the party and the future of the State of Israel," Barak said. "I know I'm not perfect, but I promise you - when it comes to the real test, I am willing and able, and I have the responsibility and the experience."
He said Labor was the only party that "offers practical solutions. Bibi took your pensions. Do you believe that Livni can bring it back? Or maybe [Finance Minister Ronnie] Bar-On and the indecisive policy of Kadima? We have been calling on them [Kadima] to get their act together in the past six months, to channel money to the provident funds and to the pension savings funds, and all we got was slander and empty slogans."
Barak urged the supporters not to be discouraged by the polls.
"It's unpleasant, but it's not so bad," Barak said. "We will speak the truth, act in light of it and ask the public to vote for it - emet [the party's name on the official ballot, meaning 'truth']."
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