Labor Party Leader Peretz Eliminates Primaries

Israel’s Minister of Economy, Labor party chairman Amir Peretz. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A Tel Aviv District Court judge refrained from intervening in a power struggle within the Labor party on Sunday, as the right to vote for the chairmanship and the electoral slate was taken from the general membership and vouchsafed for an inner group associated with Labor leader Amir Peretz.

A party convention on Sunday decided by a 66% to 33% vote to cancel its primaries, shifting the right to vote away from the 44,000 Labor members to the 3,800 activists eligible to vote at the convention, The Jerusalem Post reported.

“These steps were what is needed for our party,” Peretz said. “Together, we will bring new people to the party and return it to its natural leadership role, while acting for the good of the state and Labor’s values of social justice and pursuing peace.”

Peretz, currently Minister of the Economy, argued for the decision as an economizing measure. He said it’s preferable to have the convention select the chairman and MKs, because membership-wide primaries would be too expensive for both the party and the candidates.

Not surprisingly, not everybody in the party thought it was for the good of the party. Labor MK Merav Michaeli asked the district court for an injunction to prevent the convention, which she said would deprive Labor members of their basic right to vote and would be “the final step to destroy Labor.”

Judge Limor Bibi declined to get involved, because of lack of time and because courts tend to refrain from interfere in internal party politics. But she reserved the right to revisit the case once elections have been called, the Post said.

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