Disgruntled Labor members decide not to follow Kadima and instead pledge allegiance Netanyahu.
By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
A group of Labor members decided not to follow the trend of Laborites who have switched allegiance to Kadima and instead went to the Likud's Tel Aviv headquarters on Sunday and pledged allegiance to Binyamin Netanyahu.
The group of 30 Labor members was led by Ruth Agmon, a former Chicagoan who ran unsuccessfully in Labor's primary last month and who was tenth on the list of Labor chairman Amir Peretz's Am Ehad party in the 2003 election.
"I am here to announce that I am quitting Labor and joining Likud together with other Laborites from every sector, including the handicapped, single mothers, immigrants, Arabs and Druse," Agmon said in a press conference. "We could have easily gone to Kadima, but we decided to cross the ocean and seek solace on this shore."
Agmon said that she left Labor because the party had moved too far to the Left under Peretz's leadership and because she had decided that Netanyahu's economic policies were correct.
"I think Labor turned to the radical Left in a way that doesn't fit me," Agmon said. "Bibi is the one who saved the economy. He filled the public coffers and he is the one who can distribute the money the best way."
Netanyahu welcome Agmon into the Likud and he said that he saw her joining the party as a vote of confidence in his economic policies. Likud MK Dan Naveh praised Agmon, saying that "she skipped Kadima and came to the Likud because she recognized that there isn't much of a difference between Kadima and Labor."
Sources close to Peretz charged that Agmon had left Labor because she lost the primary. Peretz's associates said that many more Likud members had joined Labor than vice versa. Labor held a press conference last week for Meretz activists who shifted to Labor.
Channel 10 revealed on Sunday night that one of the Laborites who joined Likud at the press conference, 78-year-old Sara Tzabari from Ein Yaakov, gave Peretz a warm blessing on television just a few weeks ago.
Another Laborite who has shifted to another party, Labor MK Eli Ben-Menahem, admitted on Sunday that one of the reasons he joined Kadima was that Labor declined to give him the ceremonial post of deputy Knesset speaker for the last two months before the election - a promotion that would have given Ben-Menahem an extra NIS 1040 in his monthly pension.
Meanwhile, a new Likud advertising campaign began on busses on Sunday with the slogan "Smolmert gave money to Hamas." The campaign incorporates the Hebrew word for "Left" into the name of the Kadima leader. The name "Smolmert" will also be featured in a new Likud television commercial.
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