Veteran Laborites worried move gives newcomers an advantage with voters.
By SHEERA CLAIRE FRENKEL
Labor Chairman Amir Peretz was seeking Wednesday to move the Labor Party primaries to early January, upsetting several party members who said they needed longer to campaign.
Peretz argued against the current date, January 17, which he feels will give the party too little time to launch a national campaign. Other parties would be busy pushing their lineup to voters, said Peretz, while the Labor Party would still be stuck on inter-party debate.
In addition, the Labor party announced their election team lineup with MK Eitan Cabel as campaign chairman, MK Binyamin Ben Eliezer as field chairman, MK Ophir Paz Pines as strategic team chairman, MK Yuli Tamir as public relations chairwoman.
While Peretz aides said that the party could use the time for its national campaign, party members feel that the argument is self-serving and not considerate of the needs of individual party members.
"Why does everything need to be hurried and fast?" asked a Labor MK seeking reelection, who asked not to be named. "While the newcomers have received all this publicity the rest of us have had to fight for the spotlight. The sooner the elections, the greater the buzz around the new party members, and the more likelihood that they will get votes over veteran members."
Candidates, both old and new, who hope to run on the list will have until Thursday night to add their names to the candidacy lists. Several Labor heavyweights, including former Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Peretz ally and Histradrut member Rachel Turjeman, have not yet officially announced their decision, although party officials said it was likely that neither would run.
On Wednesday night, a meeting of Likud members who decided to join the Labor party convened in Tel Aviv. The head of the Rehovot Likud branch, Shlomo Yifrach, was one of several who vowed to quit Likud to join Labor.
On Sunday, the internal party committee announced the organization of the party list, which included changes such as reserving four of the first 15 spots for women.
Meanwhile, aides to Peretz confirmed Wednesday that Peretz had been approached by right wing parties to form a coalition with the 61 mandates needed to overthrow Sharon and place Peretz at the head of a new government that could last until November 2006.
Peretz, however turned down the offer, after the right wing parties stipulated that his government would not be allowed to make any territorial concessions during its term.