Peretz, Barak supporters come to blows at Labor Party meeting
Yelling, mutual recriminations, cursing and shoving between supporters of MK Amir Peretz and Defense Minister Ehud Barak broke up yesterday's first meeting of the Labor Party bureau since the party's poor showing in the elections. The acrimoniousness spilled over after Pini Kabalo, a Peretz rival and close associate of Histadrut labor federation chairman Ofer Eini, accused Peretz of intentionally sabotaging the campaign to harm Barak's chances.
"He let his people stay home so Ehud would bring in fewer seats," Kabalo said, referring to Peretz. Kabalo's accusations, which he had also voiced privately during and after the campaign, had Peretz supporters storming the stage, and party Secretary-General MK Eitan Cabel had to adjourn the meeting. Senior party members looking shocked at the outburst.
Peretz, who is preparing to run again for the party leadership, rejected the accusations that he did not do everything in his power to help Barak. "My camp is the most loyal camp in the party, and the party is no one's private property," he said.
Earlier, before the meeting broke up, Barak pledged in his speech "to take full responsibility" to rehabilitate the party from the opposition benches, and to "return it to the center of the political map."
Senior Labor figures said that despite talk of going to the opposition, Barak was still feeling his way toward a coalition with Netanyahu, but he did not have the party's support for such a move after the failure in the elections.