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No Takeoff

Not his fault. Peretz Photo: Tzafrir Abyov
Not his fault. Peretz Photo: Tzafrir Abyov
 
Labor members. Continuing to drop? Photo: Gil Yohanan
Labor members. Continuing to drop? Photo: Gil Yohanan
 
Peres. Harshly criticized Photo: Hagai Aharon
Peres. Harshly criticized Photo: Hagai Aharon
 
 

Labor frustrated by poll failure

Senior party members call on change in strategy, say Labor should declare its intentions to back Kadima as second-place party; 'Peretz not perceived as prime minister, it's not his fault,' says party source

Attila Somfalvi
Published: 03.15.06, 08:40 / Israel News

Frustration is growing among senior Labor party members due to poll results released in the media predicting a bad outcome for the party in the upcoming Knesset elections.

 

Labor sources told Ynet that "the general feeling is that we are doing everything in the right way, the campaign is ticking along as

it should, but there is a total disconnection between that and the polls, which show that we continue to drop."

 

The figures from the unflattering polls are not only taking the wind out of the sails of the campaign but are also causing disagreements within the party. Tension has been rising in recent days between a group of senior members, who claim that this is the time to change the campaign and declare officially that Labor is fighting for the second place, and Chairman Amir Peretz, who opposes any change at this stage of the campaign.

 

Those supporting a change believe that if Labor turns to the public with a message saying it seeks to strengthen the Kadima party, the public would opt to support it. Peretz, however, completely opposes such a stance, and claims that the Labor party should fight for the leadership of the government.

 

A Labor party source told Ynet: "There is terrible frustration. On the one hand, people return from conferences around the country and report an amazing atmosphere, but on the other hand, we don't see the results in the polls. There is great concern that at the end of the day we will crash to just 13-14 Knesset seats."

 

"Almost nobody sees a situation in which Labor keeps its 18-19 seats. There is also a chance that we'll be surprised, and succeed in getting 22-23 seats," the source said.

 

'Nothing can be done'

 

Labor sources say that despite the tensions and frustrations, senior members do not have claims against Amir Peretz.

 

"There's nothing that can be done, Amir is not perceived as a prime minister. It's not his fault," a source said.

 

With that, in recent weeks senior party members have been saying in closed conversations that if Peretz was not leading the party, Labor would be significantly stronger.

 

Such comments are, of course, heard in closed rooms, and no senior member dares come out with a call to replace Peretz two weeks before the elections.

 

The only who has done so in recent days is Knesset Member Wizman Shiry, a loyal supporter of former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who told Ynet that Peretz should be replaced with Professor Avishay Braverman before it is too late and the party disappears.

 

Meanwhile, the party has harshly criticized Shimon Peres, who claimed that Labor never wanted to be a social-democratic party and that Kadima supports a minimum wage.

 

A Labor party source said in response that "Labor revised reality and these comments are simply absurd. He is talking about unrealistic things that have no connection to reality."

 

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