Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich called for a November 14 primary for head of the
party at a Tel Aviv press conference Sunday and immediately came under attack by
the candidates who intend to run against her.
MK Erel Margalit complained
that Labor lost a winnable general election in January because Yacimovich was
not a team player.
Margalit compared her to basketball legend Michael
Jordan, saying the shooting guard did not win his Chicago Bulls championship
until he learned how to pass.
“Yacimovich failed in the election,”
Margalit said. “The 15 seats she won are all she could get. The next election
will be on who can face off against [Yesh Atid leader] Yair Lapid and take back
the votes he drained from us.”
Margalit called Yacimovich a Communist
McCarthyist. He said he did not have a problem with the date she chose for the
race, as long as Labor’s institutions would force her to conduct a membership
drive that she did not want.
MK Isaac Herzog questioned the timing of the
race at a time when the attention of the public was focused on its socio
economic problems and the civil wars raging in surrounding countries. His
associates said he expected a compromise to be reached on holding the race in
December, further away from the October 22 municipal elections.
we need elections now?” Herzog asked. “Is that what interests the public?
Holding a leadership primary now looks like narrow politics, which strengthens
the public’s impression that we are irrelevant.”
MK Eitan Cabel
questioned why Yacimovich announced the election while the party was focused on
key parliamentary battles.
“There is no reason in the world to enter such
hysteria and pressure when Labor is fighting against the budget,” Cabel
Yacimovich did not mention the three MKs in her press conference, choosing instead to focus her attention on former IDF chief Gabi
Ashkenazi and daring him to challenge her without mentioning him by
“I call upon anyone else who sees himself as fit to lead the party
to run,” she said. “There is no cooling off period in running for party leader.
The race will be on our ideological path. After the election, we will accept the
voters’ will and continue on with our internal conflicts behind us.”
an effort to draft Ashkenazi, she said she would waive the minimum requirement
for membership in the party. She did not rule out holding another primary ahead
of the next general election.
When asked why she was expediting the race,
she said she wanted to hold it in September, before the municipal races, but
mayoral candidates persuaded her to wait.
“My feeling was that the
primaries had already begun,” she said.
“I did not want Labor to pay a
price for primaries that were already taking place and causing
Since 2000, Labor has replaced its leader six times. If
Yacimovich emerges victorious, she will be the first Labor head to win
back-toback leadership races since President Shimon Peres in the
“I am sure Labor members are sick of the constant leadership
changes that have not helped the party return to power,” she said. “I intend to
make history by winning twice in a row.”
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