Labor slams Kadima for criminal ties

Labor Party officials struck hard at the Kadima Party on Monday, led by Labor candidate Shelly Yacimovich, who claimed that Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had ties to major criminal figures. Yacimovich made her accusation following Monday morning's arrest of Reuven Gavrieli, Ezra Gavrieli and Shoni Gavrieli, the father, uncle and brother respectively of MK Inbal Gavrieli (Likud) on charges of illegal gambling, money laundering and tax fraud. Citing her background in journalism, Yacimovich said that Olmert and Shoni Gavrieli had a long history of financial dealings dating back to donations made to Olmert's election campaign for mayor of Jerusalem. Yacimovich's accusations came amid a day of Olmert-bashing from the Labor Party. In the morning, Labor officials unveiled their new campaign slogan: "The time has come to separate money from the ruling party." The slogan will be displayed along with a chart showing that during the two years that Labor controlled the government from 1999-2001, corruption in the government decreased for the first time in 10 years. Their figures are based on data published by the Knesset. "The connection between big money and big politics is one of the biggest problems in Israeli society," said Labor Party chairman Amir Peretz. "Our figures show that Kadima represents corrupt politicians the same way the Likud did." In response to the attack, Kadima officials pointed to an incident during Ehud Barak's term as prime minister, when several crates of completed registration forms were lost by Labor election officials. "The people from the 'lost crates' party are trying to whitewash the corruption that has stuck to Amir Peretz and his Histadrut cronies," said a Kadima spokesman. "Not even Amir Peretz's choir can succeed in hiding the results of the police investigation and the harsh criticism of the courts against Amir Peretz's stealing the leadership of Labor and using the Histadrut." MK Haim Ramon (Kadima) added that Labor had become frustrated and desperate. "Imagine what they would be saying if it was Omri Sharon and not Labor who lost thousands of membership forms. People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones," said Ramon. Later that day, the Labor Party discussed its social platform, saying it would include a focus on improving the country's cultural life by increasing its culture budget.