Barak retaliates against Peretz's personal attacks

Labor chairman says changes to party's constitution will be handled democratically and fairly.

Barak intense 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Barak intense 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday retaliated against MK Amir Peretz's personal attacks in his fiercest criticism against a party rival since becoming Labor chairman nearly six months ago. Peretz had accused Barak on Wednesday of maneuvering for a hostile takeover of Labor via changes in the party's electoral system that Peretz said were intended to make Labor into a "party of one person." Peretz had even warned Barak of the potential for a split in the party. At a meeting of the Labor executive committee at the party's Tel Aviv headquarters, Barak responded that changes in the party's constitution would be handled democratically and fairly. He said he had learned from conversations in Annapolis with former British prime minister and British Labor Party leader Tony Blair that the key to victory was party unity. "Whoever doesn't have the force and spirit to unite, at least don't bother us," Barak said without mentioning his predecessor, Peretz, by name. "Everyone who wants to help is welcome, but there is no one who we cannot win without. At least make an effort not to bother us." Labor secretary-general Eitan Cabel criticized Peretz for "spreading untrue rumors" about the party replacing its primaries with a "ranking committee" that would select Labor's Knesset candidates. He said he would bring his proposed changes to the Labor constitution to a vote next month. "All the rumors are useless dribble intended to disparage, and they have no place in our party," Cabel said. Peretz, who did not attend the meeting, vowed to prevent Barak from making the changes. Asked about Barak's attack, Peretz told The Jerusalem Post, "I'm glad he is finally doing something."