Rebellion brewing in Israel’s Labor? Members threaten to bolt, reports say

Labor leader Amir Peretz may see some members depart over recent moves, including filling the list with his cronies, reports say. 

By World Israel News Staff 

Newly-elected Labor Party chairman MK Amir Peretz is already facing a brewing rebellion, as unnamed party members are threatening to bolt the party over steps he has taken since winning the Labor primary on July 2.

Amid efforts to form a left-center bloc of Labor, the radical left-wing party Meretz, and a new party set up by former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Peretz opted instead to merge the Labor list for the September 17 Knesset election with the Gesher party of Orly Levy-Abekasis.

Like Labor, Abekasis’s party stresses socioeconomic issues, but she also holds right-wing views on other matters,  dimming chances for a broader left-wing alliance that includes Labor.

Already upset about that move, some Labor MKs are threatening to bolt and instead join Meretz or Barak’s Israel Democratic party if Peretz goes ahead with inserting cronies high on the Labor list for the Knesset, reports Kan public broadcasting.

Yet another point of contention is a reported agreement between Peretz and the Gesher party that Labor would cover Gesher’s debt from the April election.

As Gesher didn’t receive enough votes to enter the Knesset, it doesn,t receive financial assistance from the state, meaning that its debt is quite large. Labor itself is said to be in a poor financial state due to its declining popularity.

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An official Labor statement denied that such a financial arrangement exists with Gesher. Peretz has defended his actions, saying that leaders have to make decisions which they deem as most beneficial but not necessarily popular.

However, both Barak and the Meretz leadership have expressed anger over Peretz’s resistance to joining a combined list with them for the September ballot. Those two parties hope that a larger, unified bloc will bolster the main opposition party, Blue and White, and hopefully beat Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud.

Likud and Blue and White finished tied with 35 seats in the 120-member parliament in April’s election. Polls have shown them neck-and-neck in the September balloting, as well.

Barak has accused Peretz of letting his ego get in the way of joining forces for the greater good.

Labor won only six seats in the April Knesset election, an all-time low for the once leading party in Israel.