MK Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) was sworn in as opposition leader on Wednesday, and
gave her first speech in that capacity to the Knesset plenum.
called a press conference hours before Yacimovich took her new position to say
that they will lead a “true” opposition, as opposed to Kadima’s “farce of an
“No party is more suited than Labor to head the opposition,”
Yacimovich said. “Kadima was not an alternative for one
Yacimovich pointed out that the opposition is one of the
smallest in Israel’s history, with a wide, complex range of opinions, but she
will lead them all.
Labor plans to focus on the 2013 state budget, which
Yacimovich expects to be “monstrous” and deepen social gaps in
“The social atmosphere suddenly passed, and all the government is
talking about are the ‘Tal Law’ and Iran,” Yacimovich said. “It is easy, because
they will come to a compromise in the end. It is easy to say Tal Law three times
a day, and forget about the budget.”
The Labor leader cited an increasing
burden on the middle class, adding that the public is with her.
though the opposition is small in this building, outside it is massive,” Labor
faction leader Isaac Herzog said.
Later, in her first speech to the
plenum, Yacimovich mostly distanced herself from politics, during a Victory Day
ceremony, in which Soviet Army veterans of World War II filled the plenum’s
Yacimovich began with a personal story, of her mother being
saved by Russian soldiers in Warsaw at the end of the war, and told the veterans
she owes them a “personal debt.”
One of the messages of WWII is “not to
be like lambs to the slaughter,” she said.
“However, the message of
strength and defense must be balanced with justice and equality,” Yacimovich
stated. “The thing we’re defending must have meaning.”
For example, she
said, Israel must fight racism, and ensure peace, justice and fair distribution
of health with strong mutual responsibility.
“You deserve to live with
respect, a good pension, a roof over your heads and the ability to buy gifts for
your grandchildren,” Yacimovich told the veterans.
Earlier in the plenum,
opposition MKs slammed Kadima and Likud for their coalition agreement.
Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor) said he is not surprised the public lost its faith
in politicians, because today the political system is “garbage.”
sold your soul to the devil,” Ben-Eliezer exclaimed.
Protection Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) told the plenum he was appalled that a
veteran MK would imply that the prime minister is the devil.
party was in the government, it seemed like you and the prime minister were
friendly,” Erdan said.
Soon after, Ben-Eliezer asked for his comments to
be removed from the Knesset protocol, and clarified that the political move was
“satanic,” and he was not calling Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu the
Meretz MKs also slammed Kadima and Likud, with MK Nitzan Horowitz
reading the definition of “disgust,” and quoting from soonto- be Vice Premier
Shaul Mofaz’s infamous “Netanyahu is a liar” speech.
“We are not going to
be polite. This is small, disgusting, nauseating politics, born out of
fear, out of panic,” Meretz leader Zehava Gal- On said. “I am embarrassed for
Kadima. This is not clean politics.”
Meanwhile, coalition MKs fought
back, with MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) calling Labor hypocritical, as they were in
the coalition with Likud before Defense Minister Ehud Barak broke off from the
“You come to us with complaints? Are you not embarrassed? Have
some modesty,” he exclaimed. “You didn’t do anything while you were in the
You did not change anything or pass any laws. You are a bunch
of wet rags – do not think the public will forget it.”
“What would be
different if we had elections in September,” MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud)
“Would Mofaz be more credible? Anyway, he said he would join
Netanyahu’s government after elections, so why is this worse?” Hotovely attacked
Kadima, saying they did not act like an opposition party before the national
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