Labor threatens not to vote for budget

Demands NIS 2b. for social issues; central committee to set race date.

shalom simhon 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
shalom simhon 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The Labor faction demanded NIS 2b. for social issues Thursday and threatened not to vote in favor of the budget if they didn't get it, Israel Radio reported. Meanwhile, the Labor Party central committee will convene at Tel Aviv's Dan Panorama Hotel on Thursday for a meeting that will set the date for the party's leadership race and could decide the fate of incumbent party chairman Amir Peretz. The central committee members will decide in a secret-ballot vote between Labor Secretary-General Eitan Cabel's proposal to hold the race at the end of May or beginning of June, Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon's proposal for a March primary and Peretz's proposal to delay the vote. Peretz said the vote should be delayed by three weeks in order to allow Labor's house committee and executive committee to reconvene due to the revelation last week of a loophole in the party's constitution requiring an election for the Labor leader only within 35 months of losing a general election and not within 14 months as previously thought. A source close to Peretz expressed confidence that his proposal would emerge victorious. He said Peretz had a majority to pass the proposal, which is backed by many top Labor officials, including Education Minister Yuli Tamir and Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh. Labor leadership candidates Ami Ayalon and Ophir Paz-Pines have endorsed Cabel's proposal. Sources close to Ayalon accused Peretz of trying to delay the race because he is afraid to lose the race and his post as defense minister. "Amir Peretz doesn't need to be defense minister," said Ayalon, who has vowed to replace Peretz as defense minister if elected. "Peretz should have a socioeconomic portfolio instead." An internal Labor court met until after midnight on Tuesday night before deciding to endorse Peretz's interpretation of the constitution regarding the 35 months. But the court turned down Peretz's proposal to cancel the central committee's vote on the primary date. Peretz appealed the latter ruling to Labor's appellate court, which has three judges instead of one. The court met late Wednesday night until after press time. Labor officials said it was possible that whoever lost Wednesday night's court decision would seek a ruling from the Tel Aviv District Court.