Labor claims it´s ´the center´ as Beilin, Dayan go (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Yossi Verter 12/12/02)
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Former justice minister Yossi Beilin and MK Yael Dayan moved from
unrealistic Labor Party slots to the slightly more realistic 11th and
12th positions on the Meretz Knesset list yesterday, enabling Labor
Party strategists to claim the center as "the Likud is extreme right
and Meretz is extreme left and we´re in the center."
The Beilin-Dayan move came only hours after Beilin met with Labor
Chairman Amram Mitzna, who emerged from the meeting apparently
convinced Beilin was remaining in the party. But since Beilin and
Dayan were shoved down the Labor list to the 36th and 39th slots
respectively, considered unrealistic in next month´s national
elections, they have been in touch with Meretz Chairman Yossi Sarid
about jumping to the party to Labor´s left.
With the move, Meretz leaders were speaking of creating a new, Social
Democratic Party, which would include Meretz, Beilin´s grass-roots
Shahar (Dawn) movement and Roman Bronfman´s Democratic Choice, which
has already merged with Meretz. This new party "will be home to all
those seeking to make peace with our neighbors and foster social
justice at home," Sarid declared.
The deal was approved by the Meretz Council, but still needs to be
ratified by the party´s convention, which will meet in a special
session today at the Tel Aviv Exhibition Grounds. Party lists for the
January 28 elections must be submitted to the Central Election
Committee by midnight tonight.
After the results of the Labor Party primaries were announced on
Tuesday, Sarid and Beilin met several times to work out their joint
election bid. According to Beilin´s proposal, he and Dayan will run
together with Meretz as representatives of the Shahar movement.
Shahar is also an acronym for the Hebrew words for peace, education
and social welfare. It was founded by Beilin in June in an effort to
unite the peace camp, and as a launching pad for Beilin when he was
threatening to quit Labor if Benjamin Ben-Eliezer was reelected party
chairman but was not intended to become a political party. The dowry
to Meretz includes some 5,000 registered members of Shahar.
Beilin first came into the Labor Party as a protege of senior
statesman Shimon Peres and served as the party´s spokesman in the
late 1970s, and through the 1980s and especially the 1990s, was a
font of political and diplomatic strategizing for the party.
Considered the original architect of the Oslo agreement, Beilin stuck
to the vision of the agreement and defended it, turning into a
lightning rod for anti-peace camp rhetoric throughout the political
spectrum, even after the intifada broke out and blame was placed on
But it was Beilin´s campaign against Ben-Eliezer as party chairman -
because Ben-Eliezer took up the role of defense minister in the unity
government and became identified with the IDF´s military measures in
the West Bank - that angered Labor Party members. There was unhidden
joy in the Ben-Eliezer camp this week when Beilin, who garnered about
28,000 of the 56,000 votes cast in the party primaries, found himself
shoved to the 36th spot because of the party system that guarantees
top "realistic" slots to various sectors, such as the kibbutzim,
women, immigrants and geographic areas.
The agreement hammered out by Beilin and Sarid also places other
Shahar representatives in the joint list, including former Labor MK
Hagai Merom, the author Zvia Greenfeld, former UN ambassador Yohanan
Bein, Professor Eli Bar-Navi, former commander of the IDF artillery
corps Doron Kadmiel and the chairman of the Daliat al-Carmel local
council, Ramsi Halabi.
Dayan, daughter of the late Israeli icon Moshe Dayan, said yesterday
Labor "looks more and more like some poor version of what the Likud
Interviewed before the news of the deal with Meretz emerged, Dayan
said that she was coordinating her positions with Beilin but refused
to confirm reports that the two were planning to join forces with
"With the Likud on the right and the Yossis on the left, we´re
staying in the center," said one Labor Party strategist last night,
explaining that while there was some concern about leaking votes to
Meretz, the Beilin-Dayan move fit with their overall strategy which
is to depict the Likud as being in thrall to the extreme right.
Labor Secretary General Ophir Pines-Paz said Beilin´s
departure "saddens me, but Yael Dayan´s departure angers me, since
she always moved into guaranteed slots as a woman candidate.
The party´s outgoing Knesset faction whip, Effi Oshaya, said "with
all the heartache, in every election there are people who don´t win,
but the fact one loses doesn´t mean you come out against your party,
which has been your home for so many years. It´s not political and
it´s not moral. It´s a shame when people who speak about democracy
and equality come out against the decision of the voters." (©
Copyright 2002 Ha´aretz 12/12/02)
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