The system of primary elections is corrupting, Amram Mitzna, a candidate for the chairmanship of the Labor Party, said in an interview to be published tomorrow in Haaretz.
"It is corrupting because on the date set for the primaries every candidate brings a chorus of cheerleaders who are gone the next day," he said.
Mitzna said having a mass membership drive ahead of elections creates an opening for people who not only have no interest in the party, but who "do have an interest in the party but due to things like bribery, money and so on."
Mitzna said he had "personal knowledge of people who get money for every signed registration form they bring."
The Labor Party's leadership candidates have called for an examination of the membership rolls following media reports that thousands of members were also registered in rival parties Kadima and Likud. The reports also said that in the Arab community, numerous extended family members registered under the phone number of a single applicant, in breach of party regulations.
Mitzna criticized his fellow candidates, particularly MK Shelly Yachimovich.
"I have a high regard for Yachimovich's battles and for the legislation she pushed through, but I think that sometimes she throws out the baby with the bathwater," he said.
"For her, everyone who has a checkbook in his pocket and more than NIS 100,000 available in the bank is a target and is corrupt," said Mitzna. "In the end, it's actually the tycoons who create the most jobs - the same tycoons she attacks."
Mitzna also said Yachimovich focused on the tycoons but did not deal at all with injustices in Israeli society having to do with foreign workers or Israeli Arabs. "She is just not there," he said. "And the whole political-security realm - a central area, no matter how you look at it - doesn't exist from her point of view."
Yachimovich called Mitzna's approach to her world view "shallow." She said he "did not differentiate between real economics that bring prosperity to a country and economics that are financial exercises that create dangerous concentration, hurt democracy and expand gaps."
Yachimovich said Mitzna, who "reduced the Labor Party from 26 to 19 seats even before Kadima was born, remained party chairman for a few months without leaving even the slightest imprint... and on the way, managed to support Netanyahu's budget of edicts, should criticize himself before he casts stones at others."
"I regret that Mitzna has lost his solidarity," she added.
In analyzing the reasons for Labor's deterioration, Mitzna pointed a finger at President Shimon Peres, whom he said was "definitely responsible" for it. "The truth is that people did not grow in his shadow. His roots drank up everything all around, and did not allow anyone to grow."
According to Mitzna, Peres also contributed to the party's downfall "by always wanting to enter every coalition." Mitzna said "the peak came, of course, when he left Labor for Kadima, a move that I find absolutely scandalous."
Mitzna said he is the only one of the candidates who can ensure that Labor will win at least 10 Knesset seats and the only one with the potential and ability to be prime minister.
"If any of the other candidates become the leader, Labor will be doomed to become a niche party," Mitzna said.
In answer to criticism that Mitzna is not charismatic enough, the candidate responded: "It's true that my language and my whole way of looking at things is humanistic, liberal, democratic [and] considerate, that I notice injustice or the undermining of values. That is who I am. But we saw where charismatic, strong-armed leaders like [Ariel] Sharon, like [Ehud] Barak, like Bibi Netanyahu led us."
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