Labor members went to the polls on Thursday to elect the party’s list for the
19th Knesset, in a vote that will show how much influence party leader Shelly
Yacimovich has, as opposed to the growing opposition within Labor led by MK Amir
Results of the primary will be released early Friday morning,
after 58 percent of Labor’s 60,424 eligible members voted for 8-12 candidates
out of 83, who are competing for about 20 spots in the next Knesset, according
to Thursday’s The Jerusalem Post/Smith Research poll. Voting took place between
10 a.m. and 10 p.m. in 68 locations from Eilat in the South to Kiryat Shmona in
the North, and went smoothly, with complaints in only a few polling
Yacimovich pointed out on Thursday that there will be many new
faces in the Labor faction, as the party is expected to more than double its
seats in the next Knesset, adding that she does not have a list of recommended
“I voted for 12 people, and if I could, I would have chosen
20. It’s not easy to pick the best people,” she said after voting in Tel Aviv.
“Everyone should vote however they think is right. In recent days, I heard of
different lists, some very strange, that claimed to be what I want. I have no
connection to these things.”
Despite Yacimovich’s insistence, several
candidates were known to have her backing, including former aide Michal Biran,
her chief of staff Ofer Kornfeld, former National Union of Israeli Students
chairman Itzik Shmuly, former MK Christian Arab Nadia Hilou and educator Chili
Tropper among others.
Yacimovich has tried in recent weeks to position
Labor as a centrist party, saying on Tuesday night that she hoped the list would
not be “too leftwing.”
As such, the Labor leader does not back feminist
Haaretz columnist Merav Michaeli, who is thought to have a good chance of
reaching a high slot on the list, or Peace Now former secretary-general Yariv
Peretz, leader of the opposition to Yacimovich within the
party, supports Michaeli, as well as MKs Eitan Cabel, Ghaleb Majadle and
Peretz referred to the vote on the Palestinian Authority’s
status in the UN in a thinly veiled criticism of the Labor
“Today, more than ever, the Labor Party must wave the flag of
peace and treat it as an electoral asset and not an electoral burden,” he
Peretz voted in Givatayim, which has an older, Ashkenazi
population, instead of his hometown of Sderot, saying that changing voting
locations is a momentous occasion, symbolizing that “the battle is not between
ethnic groups; the battle is between classes.”
The former defense
minister, who is enjoying a spike in popularity as the official who promoted the
Iron Dome missile defense project, is competing with the Yacimovich-backed MK
Isaac Herzog for the second spot on the Labor list.
Also Thursday, the
Beit Shemesh polling place was closed as per a request from the police, after an
activist attacked the ballot committee’s chairman.
The Kiryat Gat polling
station was shut down temporarily, after an investigator hired by Labor caught
an activist leaving the premises with empty voting forms, which he intended to
fill out and give to party members, so they would vote according to his
In addition, party members in Kibbutz Yotvata in the Negev
complained that the party’s “mobile polling station,” which allowed Labor voters
in remote locations to participate in the primary, arrived three hours
Lawyers and investigators hired by the party were stationed in each
polling place in order to prevent irregularities in the voting.
addition, following computer troubles in Sunday and Monday’s Likud primary,
Labor moved to a semi-computerized format. Party members filled out paper forms,
which were then scanned and counted digitally.
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