In surprising move, Amir Peretz looks to late prime minister and Likud leader in his bid for the chairmanship of Labor Party. Many Labor Party leadership candidates over the last decade and a half have declared themselves the political heir to former prime minister and Labor head Yitzchak Rabin.
MK Amir Peretz took a different strategy at a press conference Monday at Tel Aviv’s Beit Sokolov when he took the mantle of a different former prime minister, the Likud’s Menachem Begin.
Peretz slammed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s socioeconomic policies and accused him of harming the poor masses who Begin championed.
“Netanyahu privatized Begin’s legacy and sold out to the tycoons,” Peretz said.
The Labor candidate, who has become close to J Street and Leftist-American politicians, said the prime minister has made the Likud into a copy of the American Republican Party and adopted its capitalistic, economic policies.
Peretz also indicated that Begin’s views were closer to his than Netanyahu’s on issues of protecting Israel’s Arab minority from discrimination and on the need to make sacrifices for peace.
“Begin understood that there are fateful times for Israel and times when it’s necessary to take the bull by the horns,” Peretz said. “He broke his promise to keep [the settlement] Yamit [in the Sinai] and took the important step of making peace with Egypt in order to guarantee Israel’s future.”
Comparing himself to Begin is part of Peretz’s strategy of wooing Likud voters. He targeted them in Labor’s membership drive and he intends to focus on taking away mandates from Likud in the periphery if he wins the September 12 Labor race.
At the press conference, Peretz revealed his campaign slogan, which promises that he would bring new votes and voices to Labor, using a word that has both connotations in Hebrew.
Likud MK Ophir Akunis, who heads the party’s response team, responded that it was natural that parties on the Right and Left would try to woo the Likud’s voters, because the Likud had the most support in the polls. But he said that no party would succeed in taking Likudniks away from their political home.
A poll taken by Panels Ltd. for a program on the Knesset Channel asked which politician would be most fit to head a new socioeconomic party.
Forty percent said Labor leadership candidate MK Shelly Yacimovich, 13% said Labor candidate Amram Mitzna, 8% said cottage cheese activist Yitzhak Elrov, and 6% said Peretz would be most fit.
The poll of 505 adults representing a statistical sample of the population was taken on Sunday. It had a margin of error of 4.3%.