Israeli Labor Chairman to Critics of His Tilt to Right: 'You Are Sheep'

'Tzipi Livni also came from the right, and we all welcomed her with open arms,' said Amir Peretz in defense of second in Labor Orli Levy-Abekasis

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Amir Peretz, July 2019.
Amir Peretz, July 2019. Credit: Nir Keidar

“Sheep” was what Labor Party chairman Amir Peretz called the critics of his merger with Orli Levi-Abekasis’ Gesher party, and of his refusal to join the merger of Meretz and Ehud Barak’s Democratic Israel party, as Labor’s convention on Wednesday approved a join ticket with Gesher.

In his speech, Peretz said he has no intention of bringing Labor into the new Democratic Union formed by Meretz and Democratic Israel. He added that he won’t join a government led by Benjamin Netanyahu as long as Netanyahu remains a criminal suspect.

He also used his speech to assail opponents of the joint ticket with Gesher. “We’re here to break the dichotomy you’ve created, the narrative that all those who don’t think like you are sheep,” he said. “I say, with great sorrow, that you are sheep. You’re the ones who should have embraced this union.

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“Yes, it’s true, she comes from the right,” he continued, referring to Levi-Abekasis. “Tzipi Livni also came from the right, and we all welcomed her with open arms. Why are you so touchy about Orli Levi?”

Though he criticized Netanyahu, Peretz added, “We aren’t boycotting Likud; we aren’t boycotting Likud voters. They aren’t the problem, they’re the solution, and I believe some of them will come to us, to the new Israeli home.”

The deal with Levi-Abekasis gives her the second slot on the ticket and lets her put other Gesher members in the seventh and 10th slots. Peretz will be able to put a candidate of his choice in the eighth slot.

The third, fourth, fifth and sixth places will go, respectively, to current Labor MK Itzik Shmuli and former Labor MKs Merav Michaeli, Omer Bar-Lev and Revital Swid. The ninth will go to Labor’s secretary general, Eran Hermoni.

Shmuli, noting his support for joining Meretz and Barak, said, “Amir and I disagree about the means, but not about the need to settle in the hearts of many people who left us in recent years, and not about the goal – replacing the government.”