The Histadrut labor federation's elections committee yesterday accused MKs Amir Peretz and Eitan Cabel of presenting forged lists of supporters, raising suspicions of fraud, in their bid for the Histadrut leadership.
Peretz and Cabel in turn accused the committee of behaving like political campaign staff for the incumbent chairman, Ofer Eini. They charged Eini with conducting "a reign of fear."
Last week Cabel and Peretz submitted lists of their supporters to the Histadrut's election committee, as required for their candidacy. Since then hundreds of activists who signed up as supporters received telephone calls from Predictive Dial, a telemarketing company hired by the election committee, and were asked which candidate they supported.
After checking the lists the committee said 816 people on Peretz' list and 499 on Cabel's had not been aware their names were on the lists.
Peretz and Cabel said the examination was biased and was intended to threaten and intimidate the activists.
Committee members yesterday met retired Judge David Bar-Ophir and asked him to examine the lists. The committee scheduled a meeting to debate the issue next week and invited Peretz and Cabel to attend.
An activist in Peretz' campaign said yesterday, "After two days of careful examination we found the election committee is acting as part of Eini's political campaign. The committee is being used to besmirch the candidates and uses every means to make it difficult to muster supporters."
Activists said some of the supporters whom the committee said it had called said they never received such a phone call.
Cabel said some of the activists who had signed their support for him were intimidated by the questions they were asked by the telemarketing company and others felt they did not have to disclose information to the callers. "These answers clearly prove Eini's reign of fear. I have no intention of giving in," Cabel said.
Cabel is demanding the election committee chairman, attorney Tal Keret, compensate him in the sum of NIS 50,000 following the Histadrut announcement that the allegedly improper lists raise suspicion of criminal offenses.
Leon Morzovsky, head of the Union of Clerks - Administrative Public Service Employees, who was forced to leave the Histadrut after trying to split it, yesterday cast doubt on the election committee's objectivity.
Morzovsky said Keret had received payment from the Histadrut in the past, and therefore is not objective. "Keret represented the Electric Corporation union. In addition, she is on the Histadrut's judicial authority," he said.
"Eini is a leader people are afraid of. A tyrant who is afraid of contests. When I left the Histadrut, he signed me on a form saying I wouldn't run against him," Morzovsky said. He added that Peretz and Cabel don't even have an observer on the election committee.
The election committee said: "Instead of denouncing a dangerous and serious development - hundreds of allegedly forged signatures that were submitted to the committee - there's an attempt to undermine a democratic election procedure by futile, groundless claims."
The committee also said attorney Keret had not been employed as a paid Histadrut worker in the past but had received a commission in exchange for invoices.
Eini's media adviser Ronen Tzur, said: "The police recommended indicting Morzovsky on suspicion of embezzlement and receiving benefits improperly. Everyone understands the desire for revenge and frustration are motivating him and his people. The number of Histadrut members are testimony stronger than any whining from some frustrated functionary of the Histadrut's power under Eini's leadership."
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