Labor Party works to ease tensions

Compromise on legal advisor halts rebels' steps to remove sec.-gen. Cabel.

peretz shouting 298.88 (photo credit: Channel 10)
peretz shouting 298.88
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Labor rebels and loyalists of party chairman Amir Peretz compromised on a series of disputes at a stormy meeting of Labor's executive committee in Tel Aviv on Thursday, but Peretz's opponents said the real battle for the party's leadership had just begun. Peretz and Labor Party secretary-general Eitan Cabel agreed to the rebels' demands to allow the party's house committee to handle elections for Labor's institutions and to give up their efforts to fire Labor legal adviser Eldad Yaniv. In return, the rebels dropped their demand for a secret ballot that would begin the process of replacing Cabel. But the rebel MKs said the real issue at stake at Thursday's meeting was Peretz's leadership. They said that by preventing political thievery on such procedural matters, they sent a message to Peretz that he would not get away with using political maneuvering to cancel a Labor leadership race in 2007 mandated by the party's bylaws. "The real question is where Labor is heading," rebel MK Matan Vilna'i told a packed room at Labor headquarters. "The problem is much deeper. It goes into how the party is being run. Shinui proved that even a party that was run smoothly can vanish overnight." Vilna'i, who ran unsuccessfully for Labor leader against Peretz, accused him and Cabel of running the party autocratically and trying to silence opposing voices. When Cabel said the disputes would be settled with dialogue, Vilna'i shouted "Dialogue! F--- off if this is what you call dialogue!" Yaniv also blasted Cabel, saying that "the party is not anyone's private business," and that Cabel needed to be reminded that he was "the secretary-general of the party and not the secretary of the party chairman." On stage, Cabel vowed to not respond to attacks but he privately said he pitied his attackers. Peretz also took a conciliatory tone, saying that the disputes and the harsh criticism of five Labor MKs against him in recent weeks proved that the party was thriving. "Being party chairman means absorbing blows from everyone," Peretz said. "I ask the MKs to accept a deal whereby they can attack me day and night as long as they respect each other and the party."