Labor Party chairman Amir Peretz was interviewed on Friday morning by 103FM Radio, responding to the poll which predicted that his party will win only six seats.
Peretz didn't sound particularly worried about the results. "Polls are good to smell but you can't swallow them," he said in a conversation with Nissim Mishal. "I know what our trends are. We're winning eight mandates but that's not the point. The issue is that a politician must have the courage to prepare a plan. The fact that I said we'll earn 15 mandates matches the reality. I said that the Labor Party is not the address to form a government. There's another candidate named Benny Gantz."
You said that you'll take four seats from the right. How? You define yourself as left.
"I'm happy that I'm a leftist and I don't hide it, I'm fighting for the concept of 'left' to be completely different from the way we are being treated in the state of Israel. The left is democracy, peace, security, solidarity and social justice. If people will accept this concept, then they'll definitely vote for us."
"The advantage of Likud voters that I really like is that they love reliable people, and they know that I'm a reliable person. I'm not saying that I'll take ten Knesset seats. I'll take three from the votes cast for [Finance Minister] Moshe Kahlon and Orly Levy, and another two seats from the Arab and Druze sectors."
In previous interviews, Peretz claimed that he would have no problem granting the leadership of the party to his main political rival, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak. "I held talks with Barak," Peretz said. "I suggested that he join the Labor Party although the conflicts between us are well-known. I told him that if he joined us, I have no problem letting him be number one. 'Help me to rehabilitate the house,' I requested of him."
"I told him that if he joined me in rehabilitating the party, I wouldn't reject anything, including him being in first place," Peretz added. However, the fact that Barak refused the offer and decided to form his own party changed the situation. "Let there be no misunderstandings. He established another party and now we're two parties. I'll make sure that the Labor Party will be the central axis in any political discussion in the future. I'll hold discussions with Barak, Horowitz, Orly Levy and Benny Gantz."
In the negotiations, will you be willing to concede first place to Barak?
"There are two parameters here: who brings more seats from the right, and who expands the bloc. If Barak turns out to be the best answer to increasing the bloc and bringing seats from the right, then we'll certainly consider this seriously. But if not, Barak will also have to seriously consider it. It's impossible that the statement 'come to save the country' is so dramatic, and at the end, personal matters will get in the way. I declare that for me, personal matters will not get in the way."
If so, then you'll join a government headed by Netanyahu.
"This is a completely different matter. The relationship between me and [Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu is a long-standing one. He was the finance minister and I was chairman of Histadrut. We come from completely different worlds and there's a vast ideological divide between us, but at the same time, we have mutual respect toward each other. However, the fact that today there is a prime minister with a serious indictment against him creates a situation in which we're not coming to sit together with Netanyahu but rather to replace him."
In other words, you won't join a government headed by Netanyahu.
"I'm saying this explicitly. We're coming to replace him and not to be part of his government, I hope that everything is clear. We will negotiate with all the parties in a leftist government, we will form mergers and cooperate with anyone who can bring votes from the right."