Labor leadership contenders - Alon Ron
Labor leadership contenders, from left: Isaac Herzog, Shelly Yachimovich, Amir Peretz, Amram Mitzna and Erel Margalit. Photo by Alon Ron
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The Labor Party has refused to approve 26,000 membership applications after the payment details proved to be incorrect.

Thousands of additional forms were filed by people who already belong to other parties, and another 8,000 forms contained registration data for five or more people who sought to pay their dues from the same bank account. All these are now at risk of being invalidated.

The party's election committee decided yesterday that the thousands of new members who proved to already belong to other parties would not be included in the initial membership rolls that the party will publish next Friday. They will have to actively prove that they have canceled their membership in the other party in order to be listed in the official voter rolls to be published at the end of the month, because by law, people cannot belong to two parties simultaneously.

Sources in the campaign headquarters of the various candidates for the party's leadership said the candidate who suffered most from the mass invalidation of forms was former party chairman Amir Peretz, whose chances of winning the leadership primary depend on massive registration of new members.

"By a rough estimate, some 28,000 of the forms that were checked are from a previous membership drive," one party source said. "Another 9,000 are from the Internet registration, which had no problems. The main problem is with 26,000 of the 40,000 new applications, which Peretz dominated to a great extent. Therefore, he is also the one to suffer most from the discoveries."

The election committee announced yesterday that over the past few weeks, some 75,000 forms were delivered to various banks so that money could be withdrawn on the basis of the account information supplied by the applicants. But in 26,000 cases, the banks found errors in the account information.

Now the party is contacting each applicant with a problematic form in an effort to correct the errors and avoid having to invalidate the form.

At its meeting yesterday, the election committee decided to delay publishing the preliminary membership list until next Friday. It was originally scheduled to be released yesterday.

"We decided to release an initial version [next Friday] even though we still don't have bank confirmation for 26,000 forms so that there will be enough time for the candidates to comment on the final voter rolls," committee chairman Ra'anan Cohen explained.