Haaretz WikiLeaks Exclusive / Labor MK Called Former Party Leader 'Aggressive, Moroccan'

Labor leadership candidate Isaac Herzog spoke to U.S. diplomat in 2006 about party's perception by electorate.

Labor leadership candidate Isaac Herzog described his rival Amir Peretz as "inexperienced, aggressive and Moroccan," a January 2006 American diplomatic cable suggests. The cable, recently revealed by WikiLeaks, provides other observations of Labor figures by the former social affairs minister.

The cable documents a meeting between then-MK Herzog and a senior American diplomat, in which Herzog took his comments considerably beyond political correctness. While allowing that the main damage to Labor's ratings in the polls was caused by the ascendance of Kadima, he said damage was also done by "the public perception of Peretz as inexperienced, aggressive and Moroccan."

Labor's Ben-Eliezer, Herzog, and Peretz - Limor Edrey - 2008
Limor Edrey

Herzog drew optimism, however, from Labor's "excellent" Knesset list, which he described as a team that "includes Ashkenazi members [of European descent] to balance out Peretz's Sephardi [Middle Eastern] background."

The cable also provided the American diplomat's list of top leadership contenders in the party, describing them as different kinds of race horses. Peretz was "horse of a different color," Ehud Barak the "high horse," Matan Vilnai the "dark horse," Shimon Peres the "old horse" and Benjamin Ben-Eliezer the "dead horse."

Labor went on to win 19 seats under Peretz and join the coalition with Kadima, under the premiership of Ehud Olmert. Peretz sunk in the quagmire of the Second Lebanon War and resigned just over a year after taking office.

The full comments by American diplomats and Labor figures on Peretz will be published in Haaretz on Friday.