The Labor party’s convention approved on Sunday a proposal to delay the party’s leadership primaries until disputed party membership records are investigated in full.

The decision to postpone the elections indefinitely means a new Labor leader won’t be selected until after the planned evacuation of Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip and a few settlements in the northern West Bank.

The stormy meeting turned violent after a former Knesset member Addiso Masala, a supporter of Labor leadership contender Amir Peretz, denounced a rival candidate, former  Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

‘You are the king of fakes in the Israeli political system,’ Masala shouted at Barak.

‘Ehud ran out on the Labor Party and returned in order to destroy what is left,’ he added.

Masala’s remarks sparked a brawl among audience members. Masala mounted the platform and attempted to reach Barak but was prevented from doing so by the former Prime Minister’s bodyguards.

After the fray the party’s secretary general, Eitan Cabel, cut off debate.

‘I cannot allow this to continue,’ Cabel said. ‘Go and vote.’

 The delegates then voted immediately, in a secret ballot, for the indefinite postponement.

Cabel initially raised the idea of putting off the primaries last week, after revelations of irregularities in a recent party membership drive. Problems were first revealed by a report published on the news website Arabs48, where some Arab citizens of Israel whose names were listed as party members denied that they ever applied for Labor membership. Subsequent checks revealed additional irregularities on the registration forms.

‘The findings of the report are clear, and point to a large number of faulty registration forms,’ party secretary general Cabel said on Thursday. ‘The high percentage of invalid forms uncovered compels us to carry out a meticulous check … and ensure that none of the invalid forms are included in the register of [party] members.’ He predicted that the investigation could take up to two months.

Labor chairman Shimon Peres accepted the party delegates’ decision. He had previously disagreed with Cabel over the time needed for the investigation, arguing  that the registration forms could be checked within 10 day and the vote held on July 19, three weeks after the date originally scheduled.

Last week Peres said he was convinced that if the primaries were postponed by a few months, there would be no Labor Party.