Continuing and outgoing Labor MKs gave mixed responses on Wednesday as to
whether party chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich would have to fight to retain her
leadership after only raising Labor from 13 seats in the 18th Knesset to an
estimated 15 in the 19th.
Yacimovich took to Facebook to reassure her
supporters that Labor was still strong and there was a chance to form a
“The final result – 15 seats – is much more than
what anyone dreamed a year-and-a-half ago, but still disappointing,” she
admitted. “We wanted a much larger public to go with us on the path we chose,
which is not simple, but so just.”
The Labor leader wrote that she would
do all she could to build a social, peace-loving coalition without Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and called for Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid not to
join a Netanyahu government, because it would “shatter the middle
“If Lapid will participate in an alternative coalition, I will
aid him. If not, we will lead, together with our excellent faction, a fighting
opposition like no other,” Yacimovich said.
MK Isaac Herzog, second on
the party list and a Yacimovich ally, told Army Radio not to expect too much
drama in Labor.
“People expect the knives to come out the day after the
election, but there is so much to do in the whole country before we deal with
our own ‘swamp,’” Herzog said.
MK Eitan Cabel, third on the list, said,
however, that Yacimovich was responsible for the poor finish and, in an
interview with Israel Radio, he pointed out the rule in the party’s constitution
saying that, if Labor does not form the next government, it must hold a party
primary in 14 months.
“I don’t expect her to resign. I’m not walking
around with a knife, and I say that clearly,” Cabel said. “The results are
disappointing, and we will meet and make decisions.”
Outgoing MK Daniel
Ben- Simon, 22nd on the candidates list, expressed frustration with Yacimovich’s
leadership and tactics, which led Labor to losing its best chance of winning in
“Instead of being the first party, we are a distant third. I
feel sad today not personally, but for my country,” Ben- Simon said. “I thought four months ago that we would
take over, that the country supported the new Labor Party. We had polls of 25
seats, and there was enthusiasm that we were beginning a new
Ben-Simon explained that Labor was known for waving two flags –
social and diplomatic – but Yacimovich decided to leave the peace process out of
the election campaign, which he contended lost the party five seats from those
who saw Labor as an address for peace.
“What I saw this morning sickened
me. We, who were supposed to be the address of the poor, got almost no support
in the development towns. They were supposed to be our new voters. We lost them,
and we lost people who wanted peace,” he said.
Ben-Simon described Labor
as “under [Yacimovich’s] spell,” and as blindly listening to her directives to
ignore the peace process.
He referred to Labor MKs’ tough treatment of
the party’s previous leader, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, saying that he would
have wished to receive what Labor members gave Yacimovich.
“We gave her
everything and got 15 seats in return,” Ben-Simon said.
The outgoing MK
accused Yacimovich of making the campaign “all about Shelly, a one-woman show,”
while ignoring the rest of the party’s candidates.
“The election was a
confidence vote in one woman who wanted to be prime minister,” he said. “It was
about whether people liked Shelly. Unfortunately, more people disliked
her than liked her.”
Hinting at the expected primary in 14 months,
Ben-Simon said he hoped Yacimovich “reaches the appropriate conclusions,” adding
that he “expects Labor to find a person who can carry the authentic Labor Party
message and try once again to reach the hearts of Israelis.
“It’s a sad
day for people who wanted to see Labor run this country again,” Ben-Simon said.