Progressives shunted aside in the Israeli Labour Party candidate list

Jurriaan Bendien J.Bendien at
Tue Dec 10 15:36:21 MST 2002

The architect of the Oslo Accords, Jossi Beilin, almost certainly will not
return to the Knesset. Members of the Labour Party put him on the 39th place
of the candidate list. Other advocates of a reapprochment with the
Palestians were placed so that they have virtually nil chance of being
elected. The parliamentary election is on 28 January. It was called when the
Labour party stepped out of the national unity government led by Sharon. The
Labour Party won 26 seats last time, but it looks like they will lose about
6 seats.

The candidate list is headed by moderate Haifa mayor Amram Mizna, chosen as
party leader last month. In second place is Benjamin Ben Eliezer, Minister
of Defence in Sharon's government and an exponent of a "hard line" towards
Palestinians. Shimon Peres (previously Minister of Forein Affairs) is third
on the list. Matan Vilnai (Minister of Science & Culture in the national
unity government) is fourth - although considered "moderate", he backed Ben
Eliezer last month in his bid for the party leadership.

Just over half of the 110,000 members of the Labour Party participated in
choosing the candidates (Israel has a population of about 6.6 million, of
which about three quarters are Jews and 15 percent are Muslims).

Beilin (54) was still in second place of the candidate list in the last
elections. He stirred up controversy, because the conservatives attacked his
analysis of the political situation and his attempt to improve relations
with the Palestinians. Because of his revolt against ex-part leader Ben
Eliezer, he made a lot of enemies within the Labour Party. A commentator on
Israeli radio said: "Beilin is the only Israeli politician who can still
mention Arafat without foaming at the mouth, and that is why even the Labour
Party spat him out".

Other advocates of working towards peace with the Palestinians, like Jael
Dayan (daughter of Moshe Dayan) and Zali Reschef (co-founder of Peace Now)
likewise had to be satisfied with a low place on the candidate list.

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