Allon to Challenge Peres for Labor Party Leadership

Yigal Allon, who served as Foreign Minister in the last two Labor governments and derives his political support from the Labor oriented kibbutz movement, has indicated that he may challenge Shimon Peres for leadership of the Labor Party well before the next elections.

In a radio interview Friday, Allon said the next Labor Party convention would probably have to choose between two or possibly three candidates for the office of chairman. At the moment, the incumbent, Peres and former. Premier Yitzhak Rabin are the only candidates mentioned although Rabin has given no indication that he would challenge Peres. Allon hinted strongly that he would enter the race. “Those who reject competition over the office give the Labor Party the image of a rabbit party,” Allon said in an apparent jab at Peres. He rejected allegations that he was using last week’s merger between the former Mapai and former Achdut Avodah kibbutz movements to advance his own political career.

Allon spoke only a day after Peres himself suggested that the Labor Party elect a “shadow government” – on the style of the British opposition – within the year. He stressed that the idea was not to appoint people to specific posts in a future Labor Cabinet but simply to elect a party leadership in preparation for the next selections.

Addressing the Labor Party Bureau, Peres denied that he would head a “shadow government.” But he suggested that Rabin be Foreign Minister, Allon Defense Minister and Yaccov Levinsohn, chairman of the Bank Hapoalim, Finance Minister. He offered no suggestions for Premier.

Speaking of his relations with Peres, Allon said they were good. But he stressed that he did not consider himself “number two” in the party but “merely a number.” He said that so far he has not found it necessary to contend for leadership. He recalled that after the death of Premier Levi Eshkol the party had passed over the two most likely successors, himself and Moshe Dayan, and when Premier Golda Meir retired, they selected “my pupil and comrade in arms, Yitzhak Rabin. I supported Rabin,” he said.

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