Labor Party Elects New Leader

YERUSHALAYIM -
Newly elected Labor Party chairman, Amir Peretz. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

MK Amir Peretz won the race for chairmanship of the Labor party on Tuesday.

Peretz took 47 percent of the vote, fighting off two younger contenders, MK Itzik Shmuli and MK Stav Shaffir.

The polls were kept open for an extra hour until 10 p.m. to account for roadblocks in the Ethiopian protests around the country. Even so, less than half of the eligible voters turned out for a primary on which the future of the failing party would seem to hinge. Turnout was 45.6 percent of the approximately 65,000 voting members.

This will be the second leadership term for the 67-year-old Peretz, a former defense minister who led the party from 2005 to 2007. Though he was criticized by the Winograd Commission for his role in the 2006 Second Lebanon War, he has been credited with advocating what became the Iron Dome missile defense system, which initially faced widespread skepticism in the defense establishment

He succeeds Avi Gabbay, who was forced out after Labor’s worst showing ever, in the April elections, which left it with only 6 seats in the Knesset.