The ruling Labour Party in Israel has opened its annual Congress -- the central issue is a bid for the party's leadership against a background of financial scandal, economic difficulties, and major labour strikes.
The ruling Labour Party in Israel has opened its annual Congress -- the central issue is a bid for the party's leadership against a background of financial scandal, economic difficulties, and major labour strikes. The Congress comes only three months before a parliamentary general election which is perhaps one of the most crucial in Israel's history, during a build-up to the resumption of the Geneva Middle East peace conference.
SYNOPSIS: The Congress opening was attended by visiting international socialist leaders, including Willy Brandt of West Germany, and Francois Mitterrand of France. But against the air of international solidarity, the Israeli Labour Party was preparing to fight hard to retain its governing position in the face of national disillusion.
The party has to convince the electorate that its policies are right for the nation -- but at the same time the nation is suffering one of the highest costs of living. Within the party, one of the strongest contenders for leadership and perhaps the Premiership, is current Defence Minister, Shimon Peres.
Former leaders, Golda Meir, and West Germany's Willy Brandt, entered the stage with Premier Yitzhak Rabin to an overt atmosphere of unison within the party -- but in reality, a party split by issues like the jailing of Mr. Asher Yadlin. He was once a powerful figure in Israel, nominated only a few months ago as Governor of the Bank of Israel by the Prime Minister himself.
On the same day as the Congress opened, Mr. Yadlin was jailed for five years after being found guilty of fraud and tax charges. The Labour Party has 50 seats in the present 120-member parliament, and has led the country since its creation in 1948.