The two biggest opposition parties, Labor and Kadima, staked out their goals for the upcoming general election on Thursday.
Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich said that the Israeli public is ready for an alternative to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who she called the "most extreme, violently capitalist prime minister Israel has ever had."
In an interview with Army Radio Thursday, Yacimovich said that, despite Netanyahu's high poll numbers, "Our primary ambition is to change who's in power. Despite the fact that it sounds hard, it's not impossible."
The Knesset is set to vote on a bill to dissolve itself next week, and early elections are likely to take place on September 4.
"Voting in these elections will be ideological, and the public connects with our social-democratic path," Yacimovich said.
Meanwhile, Kadima MK Avi Dichter said in an interview with Israel Radio that opposition leader Shaul Mofaz is the only candidate who can Netanyahu in the expected election, dismissing Yacimovich as a serious contender.
Asked if he would consider defecting to Labor amidst reports that many
Kadima MKs may jump ship to other parties to try to preserve their seats
in the Knesset, Dichter said unequivocally that he would remain with
While Dichter admitted that he had a strong working relationship with Yacimovich, he said that he had a positive relationship with all of the Knesset party heads, and that none of those connections would take him away from Kadima.
According to a Dahaf Institute poll sponsored by the Knesset Channel on
Wednesday, Labor will replace Kadima as the second-largest faction, with 17 seats. Kadima would fall to just 10 mandates. Netanyahu's Likud leads the pack with an estimated 31 seats.
While touting Labor as "the only alternative to the current leadership," Yacimovich confessed that, even if Netanyahu remains in power, she would not scoff at sitting in a coalition government under certain conditions.
"We will only be part of a government that will make a substantial social economic change," she said, adding that "we won't be bench-warmers, as the party did in the last round" when Ehud Barak was party leader.
Political neophyte Yair Lapid also geared up for the race, submitting an official request to add his new party, Yesh Atid, to the list of political parties
competing in the general elections.
The announcement names the party's 10 founders, which include author and poet Ronny Someck and former Olympic judo champion Yoel Razvozov.