Labor race rivals Yacimovich, Herzog woo undecided MKs

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
August 28, 2013 22:00

Leading Labor party MKs will face off in the November 21 Labor leadership primary; five current MKs move to back Yacimovich.

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Shelly Yacimovich at the President's residence, January 31, 2013.

Shelly Yacimovich at the President's residence 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich and MK Isaac Herzog, who will face off in the November 21 Labor leadership primary, battled on Wednesday over the support of the party’s remaining undecided Knesset members.

Immediately following Herzog’s announcement on Monday that he was entering the race, five Labor MKs released statements that they were backing Yacimovich: Nachman Shai, Moshe Mizrahi, Miki Rosenthal, Stav Shaffir and Michal Biran. Joining them on Wednesday was Knesset Economics Committee chairman Avishay Braverman, the only lawmaker who endorsed Yacimovich in the last Labor race in September 2011.

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One of the MKs revealed that Yacimovich had purposely timed the endorsements to balance out MKs Eitan Cabel and Erel Margalit announcing their support for Herzog at his press conference. The MK said Yacimovich had pressured her supporters to release their endorsements strategically.

The primary has divided the Labor faction into camps.

Seven of the 15 legislators back Yacimovich, and three support Herzog. Labor secretary- general Hilik Bar and MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who is running for president, will remain neutral in the race.

Meanwhile, Yacimovich and Herzog have showered the remaining three MKs – Merav Michaeli, Omer Bar- Lev, and Itzik Shmuli – with praise this week. When Yacimovich arrived at the Knesset Wednesday, she gave Shmuli a kiss.

Both Yacimovich and Herzog attended a pre-Rosh Hashana toast that Michaeli hosted on a Tel Aviv beach Sunday night, and Herzog seemed to make a point of sitting next to Michaeli at a special session of the Knesset that she organized on Wednesday.

Shmuli said he would make a decision by the end of the week, because he believed remaining on the fence was wrong. Michaeli said she was in no hurry to decide which candidate to support.

Bar-Lev told his supporters at a parlor meeting Tuesday night that he would back neither candidate.

“This election is unnecessary and harmful to the party,” he said. “As a matter of principle, I will not take part in it.”


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