Former Labor chairman Amram Mitzna officially kicked off his unconventional
campaign for the Labor leadership on Wednesday by bypassing a traditional press
conference, and speaking directly to current and potential Labor members
In a message on his website, Mitzna explained why he decided to
leave the Knesset in 2005 to serve as mayor of Yeroham in the Negev – and why he
decided to make an attempt to return to national politics by seeking the Labor
chairmanship in September 12’s party primary.RELATED:Peretz defends mass Labor Party membership
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“I am returning to the
Labor leadership because I believe that the party that built, established and
escalated Israel to great achievements is still the true home of men of peace
and Israeli labor and society. If you are like me and raising children here, you
are also worried.
But out of this concern, hope and faith can, and must,
If you are here, you must believe like me that it is possible. I
call upon anyone who wants a stronger, better and more determined Israel to join
Labor and believe in a brighter future for our children and
Mitzna admitted that he considered new parties being
formed on the Left, and concluded that it was preferable to revive Labor than to
attempt to build a new party from the bottom up.
“I took seriously the
question of whether I should return, and I realized that there is no room for
new parties with narrow interests or niches,” Mitzna said. “Ehud Barak’s
departure from Labor has given the party new life in the eyes of the public, and
I am the only potential leader who can return the party to center stage and
achieve double- digit mandates in the next election.
A Dahaf Institute
poll published in last Thursday’s Yediot Aharonot found that Mitzna would bring
Labor the most seats in the next election. The poll predicted that Mitzna would
bring Labor 16 or 17 seats; MKs Shelly Yacimovich or Isaac Herzog, nine; MK Amir
Peretz, six or seven; and venture capitalist Erel Margalit, two.
Local Authorities head Shlomo Buhbut, who is also in the crowded field of
candidates, was not included in the poll.
Mitzna predicted that multiple
candidates would drop out ahead of the race. He said the fact that there are so
many people who want to head “a party that is on the operating table in the
emergency room” was a sign that it could be revived.
criticized some of his opponents – who he said were only using the race to
advance themselves politically – he reserved his fiercest criticism for Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, whom he blamed for the current diplomatic
“I can’t blame the Palestinians for seeking their goals and
interests, and I can’t complain about Barack Obama, because I didn’t vote for
him, and the American leadership has our interest at heart, even when it makes
mistakes,” Mitzna said. “I can only impact decisions here in Israel. Our
leadership’s inability to make difficult decisions, its lack of initiative and
its being dragged behind, is terrible. The world doesn’t believe Netanyahu, even
though he speaks such perfect English.”
Mitzna slammed Netanyahu for
saying that the door to peace with the Palestinians was closed by Palestinian
Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s decision to form a government with Hamas. He
declined to say that Israel should speak to a Palestinian government built by
Hamas, but said Israel needed to “take advantage of new opportunities that are
“We can’t go make peace with the Swiss,” Mitzna said.
will speak to any partner that wants to reach an agreement with Israel. Their
reconciliation is their decision, and it will be tested by their actions. I
maintain open channels with the PA. It’s a mistake to say the door is
Mitzna said he had learned from his mistakes, and he would use
former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin’s comeback as a model.
warned that Barak proved that comebacks could go badly, and Yacimovich said
Mitzna’s experience leading Labor was “short, painful, and ended quickly.”