Rabin Calls on Peres to Step Down, but Showdown is Not Expected Soon

The leadership struggle between Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres escalated another notch Sunday at a special session of the Labor Party’s Central Committee in Tel Aviv.

But a showdown does not appear imminent.

Rabin, the former defense minister, called on Peres to relinquish his dual role as party chairman and candidate for prime minister should Labor ever regain control of the government.

Peres made clear he has no intention of stepping down at this time.

According to party sources, Rabin will not move hard to topple Peres until it becomes clear whether Prime Minister-designate Yitzhak Shamir is able to form a narrow, Likud-led coalition government.

Meanwhile, Ezer Weizman, Labor’s perennial maverick dove, charged that Rabin and Peres both represent discredited policies and should be replaced by new blood.

He did not offer himself as an alternative, but at least four other prominent Laborites have indicated they would be willing to fill the leadership role.

Rabin’s latest call for Peres to resign his party office stemmed from the report of a special panel that faulted the way Peres and his aides conducted the 1988 election campaign.

The panel concluded that Labor lagged behind Likud in the vote because it stressed Peres’ personality and program, to the exclusion of others more popular with the electorate.

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