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Criticism of the new Labor Party chairman, Amir Peretz, is coming not only from Labor ministers and his rivals in Likud, but also from close associates. Several confidants expressed dismay yesterday at Peretz's latest political statements, saying that he is behaving "strangely" and seems like one "drugged and dizzied" by his unexpected success in the primaries and warm welcome in the media.

"Previous candidates for prime minister knew to express a kind of neutrality regarding their political positions," one associate said yesterday. "He should not have spoken about Oslo [the 1993 Oslo Accords] as he did, but simply said that he supports the road map. Oslo doesn't get votes, except from an extremely limited pool of left-wing voters."

Another associate said Peretz has given too many interviews and is "talking himself silly." Haaretz has learned that Peretz only got around to convening his strategic team yesterday and discussed ways of improving his future behavior.