Peretz aide: PM wants violence to win votes

An adviser to Labor Party Chairman Amir Peretz caused a political storm Thursday when he suggested that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon might escalate violence in the territories for his own political gain. In a morning radio interview, Motti Morel said that Sharon renewed the targeted assassination policy in the territories in order to instigate a violent response from the Palestinians. A security situation on the eve of the elections would serve Sharon, Morel added, by distracting public attention from social issues that Peretz had a stronger background in. Kadima officials have called on Peretz to fire Morel in light of the remarks, but Peretz has defended Morel's right to give his opinion. "Motti Morel's remarks represent his views only," Peretz said in a statement to the press. "Security is an issue that enjoys a consensus and I will not enter in public dispute over it. The election campaign will be run on social issues." Kadima spokesmen called Morel's statements incitement, irresponsible, and blood-letting. "To accuse the prime minister of Israel of wanting Israeli citizens to die in terrorist attacks just to win a couple of mandates is crazy," Sharon strategist Eyal Arad said. "A red line has been crossed and Peretz has to take action. This is a dangerous statement, on the verge of incitement." According to Morel, when targeted assassinations were not employed "there were no Kassams and no terror attacks." Meanwhile, a special meeting of 800 Labor Party members voted Thursday against changing the system by which members are chosen for its electoral list. The new system would have seen members elected through an internal committee rather than by all 120,000 members. Several high-ranking Labor officials argued against the change, including MKs Eitan Cabel and Ephraim Sneh.