Suspected Fraud in Labor Party Census Prompts Investigation Calls in Israel

Only half of membership forms have been filed so far, but Channel 2 News reported that they have checked 23,798 forms and found severe issues calling its validity into question.

Senior officials in the Labor Party called on Tuesday for a review to the party's membership rolls for fear of fraud, after a Channel 2 News report cast serious doubt on Labor's numbers.

One of the leadership contenders, Amram Mitzna, said on Tuesday he is "certain that the people entrusted with monitoring the rolls will do everything they can to ensure that it is clean and the election process will go on unhindered."

Labor leadership contenders - Alon Ron
Alon Ron

The party has yet to release the actual results of the census, which has been underway for the past few months. The party claimed 55,000 people joined it since the departure of former chairman Ehud Barak, who left to establish the Atzmaut party. Only half of the membership forms have been filed so far into the party's computer, but Channel 2 News reported Tuesday night that they have checked 23,798 forms and found severe issues calling its validity into question.

According to the report, at least 10 percent of new members have also joined Labor's rival parties, including Kadima and Likud. Such members are automatically excluded from the party. The report also found severe problems in the Arab population, with dozens of family members registered in the party under the phone number of the main enlister, contrary to party guidelines.

Using one number for several people makes it more difficult to locate them and verify the validity of their membership. Non-Jews form up to 25 percent of Labor's members.

Channel 2 reporter Amit Segal also called several new Labor members in an attempt to understand whether they joined knowingly. Many were unaware they were party members. One woman named Lousia from Be'er Sheva told Segal that she didn't join the party, while another, Valentina of Kiryat Gat, said she may have signed something but she doesn't really understand what.

Labor secretary-general Hilik Bar responded to Channel 2's charges saying the party had run a real, large-scale census, the results of which are yet to be made public. For this reason, he said, any assumptions regarding its validity was unfounded or incorrect.

Compounding Labor's troubles, Channel 10 reported last night that the bank account and credit card details of tens of thousands of party members have been leaked.

The information was mistakenly transferred to the campaigns of the leadership contenders. According to the report, instead of transferring them only the names, addresses and phone numbers of some 20,000 new members, the campaigns received their credit card and bank account details.

Bar wrote in an internal letter to leadership contenders that confidential information may have been mistakenly forwarded to them or their campaigners.

"You are hereby requested to give back to the party and/or destroy the files you've been given," he wrote.