Labor MKs say support for Avital not certain

Party members claim Peretz support doesn't help her bid for presidency as she kicks off her campaign.

colette avital 88 (photo credit: )
colette avital 88
(photo credit: )
MK Colette Avital's announcement Sunday that she would officially kick off her presidential election campaign sent rumors flying in her Labor Party over the support she might enjoy from her party members. While Labor Chairman Amir Peretz has openly endorsed Avital as the Labor Party's candidate for the presidency, he may have a difficult time convincing the rest of the party to follow suit, said one Labor MK. That MK, who added that he had not yet made up his mind over who to endorse for president, said there was a growing feeling among the Labor MKs that Peretz was supporting Avital only to advance his position in the upcoming Labor Party primaries. "Colette [Avital] is certainly a popular and well-respected MK, but there is a lot of bitterness in the party about the way in which Amir [Peretz] advances his support of her," said the MK. "She should do her own campaigning and not rely on him... there is too much bad blood with him right now." In the Labor Party faction meeting last month, Peretz was thought to reiterate his support of Avital by telling the party that she would go into the election with "at least" the 19 mandates of the Labor Party. Peretz, noted Labor Whip MK Yoram Marciano, was not a man who has ever gone back on his word. "When he gives his support or makes promises he follows through on them," said Marciano. "Anyone can look at his record and say that." Peretz's decision to support Avital came as a surprise to many as she was an open member of the "Labor Rebel Quintet," a group of Labor MKs who openly criticized Peretz's leadership. Since receiving Peretz's support, however, Avital has said she would not openly back a candidate for the Labor Party leadership race. Avital, who will hold the press conference to open her presidential race on Tuesday, has already received the backing of a number of MKs from the Labor, Kadima and Meretz parties. In the wake of the current sexual harassment scandal surrounding President Moshe Katsav, Avital has received the backing of a number of female MKs, including Kadima MKs Amira Dotan and Marina Solodkin, and MK Zehava Gal-On of Meretz.