Peretz threatens to force early Israel poll (AFP) FRANCE PRESSE) JERUSALEM, ISRAEL 11/13/05 9:16 AM ET)
AFP} Agence France Presse
AFP} Agence France Presse Articles-Index-Top
JERUSALEM (AFP) - The leader of Israel´s Labour party has
threatened to back a bill to dissolve parliament, cranking up the
pressure on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to agree to talks on
calling early elections.
"I have no intention of letting Sharon play the political scene as if
it were his private hunting ground. With all the respect I have for
him, this era is over," Amir Peretz told Israeli television late
The 53-year-old Moroccan-born trade union boss, who Thursday ousted
Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres in a Labour leadership vote, has
vowed to withdraw the centre-left party from Sharon´s fragile
Indicative of the crisis, the weekly cabinet meeting broke up after
only 15 minutes and Labour ministers walked out, public radio said.
Education Minister Limor Livnat, a member of Sharon´s right-wing
Likud party accused Peretz of delivering "demagogic speeches".
National Religious Party MP Zevulun Orlev will submit a bill to
parliament on Wednesday calling for the dissolution of the house, to
which Peretz is threatening to lend Labour´s crucial support.
"I asked him to coordinate his movements with me and he accepted.
"Sharon delayed my planned meeting with him on Sunday until Thursday.
It is an irresponsible decision because the Labour party intends to
leave the governing coalition and it is better done in a coordinated
way," Peretz said.
According to a breakdown of voting intentions published by the mass
selling Yediot Aharonot newspaper, 51 MPs plan to vote for the bill
with 48 against.
Therefore a swing vote among Labour´s 21 deputies would easily tip
the balance against Sharon.
If the vote passes, the bill must be approved by a parliamentary
legal committee before winning three successive votes in the house.
After that general elections, not otherwise due before November 2005,
will need to be held between a minimum of 90 days and a maximum of
Political commentators say the new Labour leader is worried that
master tactician Sharon is playing for time by delaying talks and
waiting for the furore surrounding his shock win over Peres to die
If the National Religious Party resolution fails to win the required
61-MP majority in the 120-member Knesset, no similar bill can be
submitted for another six months.
"The meeting is urgent. If the bill fails that will mean we´ll enter
a period of standstill," Labour MP Ephraim Sneh told public radio.
"It is not a question of propriety. There are urgent matters," on
economic and social policy, as well as the state of the stumbling
peace process with the Palestinians, he added.
Peretz, a dove and the first union boss to lead the party, has made
no secret of his disdain for the government´s "anti-social" policies
and says Labour will work towards a definitive peace agreement with
"All I ask is for the prime minister to explain the meaning behind
delaying our meeting," Peretz told army radio.
His aides say that no less than 20 telephone calls to Sharon´s office
have gone unanswered.
"Reactions to this are out of proportion. We do not decide on
elections over a disagreement on a meeting," said cabinet secretary
Israel Maimon, attributing the delay to the prime minister´s busy
"His (Peretz´s) behaviour shows he has no experience in matters of
state (eds: correct). Mr Sharon is not a union leader who has to toe
the line," said Sharon loyalist MP Roni Bar-On.
"Amir Peretz is trying to show that from now on he´s an equal player
with Sharon, which apparently the prime minister is not ready to
concede," said political commentator Akiva Eldar. (Copyright © 2005
Agence France Presse. 11/13/05)
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY