Rabin memorial fails to unite Labor party

rabin special 298 (photo credit: )
rabin special 298
(photo credit: )
Inside a white tent behind the stage at the rally marking the 10th anniversary of the assassination of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, Ehud Barak sang along with the crowd to the words of David Broza - the song of peace, it will be good. But it was a cold peace that blew through the tent where party divisions were evident even as thousands united in memory of Rabin's death. In the back corner sat newly elected Labor Party head, Amir Peretz. In a second corner sat former prime minister Barak and, in a third, former Labor Party head Shimon Peres. There was no small talk among the three leaders as each sat with his own supporters. In separate side conversations with reporters, both Peres and Peretz explained how they were walking in Rabin's path. "One of the things I learned from him was not to turn personal ambition into a party platform," said Peretz. Everyone has his own special connection to Rabin, he added. If Rabin were here now, Peretz said he believed the former leader would give him a congratulatory "hug" and he held out his arms to demonstrate the imaginary meeting with his mentor. Peretz also said he believed in his vision of peace even when it was unpopular and that he hoped to continue in Rabin's path when it came to relations with the Palestinians. "No one can kill his dream and this process," Peretz said adding that he was among those politicians who think many good things came from the Oslo peace accords. Many of the details of the road map came from Oslo, he noted. "I look to the Palestinians as a partner in the peace process," he said, adding that he thinks Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas can help move the process forward. "No one can say we don't have a partner." Peres, meanwhile, said he and Rabin often had spoken about ways to strengthen the party. There was a moment, earlier in the evening, when Peretz walked out of the tent as Peres entered. The two men passed within touching distance of each other without speaking. In an unofficial passing of power, reporters followed Peretz leaving Peres to walk alone to his seat.