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Surprise in Dull Campaign: Peretz Visits Jewish Town in Judea

In an unexpected move, MK Amir Peretz, head of the Labor party, has scheduled a campaign visit to Shim’a, a small Jewish community in southern Judea, outside the pre-1967 borders.
By Scott Shiloh
First Publish: 2/26/2006, 4:34 PM / Last Update: 2/26/2006, 3:48 PM

A senior Labor party official, Yuval Bashan, who is close to Peretz told Israel National News that the campaign stop was not meant to signify a change in Labor’s long-standing opposition to small Jewish communities located in the heart of the territories liberated in the Six-Day-War.

Bashan called the visit as “a waste of time, with no electoral value.” Despite the undiplomatic language, Bashan said Peretz was interested in hearing what the residents had to say.

Bashan said the visit will not harm Peretz’s image as a political dove, well positioned at the left of Israel’s political spectrum. “Already in 1984, [Peretz] said he would set up a Palestinian state,” Bashan explained.

Bashan, who’s running on the 34th spot on the party’s list of Knesset candidates, said Labor was the only large party willing to listen to what Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria had to say. “Even Bibi didn’t come to hear them, and Olmert doesn’t go anywhere,” Bashan said, referring to Binyamin Netanyahu, head of the Likud party and Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, head of the Kadima party.

Historically, the Labor party established the first Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. Kiryat Arba, adjacent to Hevron, Gush Etzion, and Netzarim in Gaza were all set up by the Labor party. The party’s stance on settlement swerved leftward after the Likud electoral victory in 1977.