Parties scrambling after Peretz victory (JERUSALEM POST) By SHEERA CLAIRE FRENKEL 11/10/05)
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Political parties are hastily reassessing their platforms in the wake
of Amir Peretz´s surprising win, and at the heart of their new
agendas are the social issues that lay at the core of Peretz´s
"Everyone knew early elections were coming, but now we think they
will be even earlier," said a spokesman for the National Union
party. "Everyone is gearing up and evaluating their strategy."
In his victory speech Thursday, Peretz reiterated his pledge to take
the Labor Party out of Sharon´s coalition, leaving the government
without a majority.
MKs Zevulun Orlev (National Religious Party) and Yitzhak Levy
(National Union) have also announced that they will present bills
next week calling for the dissolution of the Knesset and early
Although those calls have been sounded in the past, Peretz´s victory
gives them new legitimacy and urgency, said a Shas Party spokesman,
noting derisively that several Labor MKs whispered Thursday that
Shas, which has traditionally carried a strong social agenda, would
not be able to hold its own against Peretz´s new Labor Party. "Of all
the parties who immediately responded to Peretz´s victory, we were
the only ones to offer immediate congratulations. We were not
threatened," he insisted.
"Peretz has to carry the whole Labor party agenda, with all of its
secular inclusions, that our voters just won´t support," he said,
continuing "Our voters know that Amir Peretz stands for leftist
positions, so there is no overlap."
He added that Shas would have felt more jeopardized if Peretz had
formed his own party, where he could define the social agenda.
Other parties, however, are scrambling to interest more voters and
broaden their agendas, such as the National Union and the NRP, which
are said to be working on a plan to run on a joint ticket in the next
"We are very interested in running with the National Religious Party
and are stepping up meetings with them to work out how we will merge
our interests," said a spokesman for National Union. "We are a party
that has always been connected to the Israeli people, on social
issues and otherwise."
In the meantime, other parties have called emergency meetings to
evaluate how they will confront the Peretz victory. Both Meretz-Yahad
and Shinui called meetings this weekend.
A Shinui spokeswoman said that Labor´s new image was a front for
something it could not truly represent. "Labor says that it is the
social party, but it is fighting on the same platform as Likud and
Shas," she said, adding, "Their whole liberal, progressive platform
is gone and we, Shinui, now carry that platform."
"Peretz´s victory puts Labor at the extreme left diplomatically,
socially, and economically on the Israeli political map," said
opposition leader Yosef Lapid (Shinui). "Only Shinui can represent
the middle class."
MK Zahava Gal-On (Meretz) congratulated Peretz on his victory and
expressed her hope that Meretz and Labor would work together towards
early Knesset elections.
Meanwhile the ruling Likud party seemed unperturbed by Peretz´s
"Labor elected a leader with no diplomatic experience and complicated
opinions to be its candidate for PM," said MK and Coalition whip
Gidon Saar. "We will win the election easily. He is talented but
irresponsible diplomatically and socio-economically. He can´t lead
the country. He is a comfortable competitor." (© 1995 - 2005 The
Jerusalem Post. 11/10/05)
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