(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog succeeded in expanding his power in the Labor Party at a party convention at Tel Aviv University Sunday but endured catcalls and criticism in the process.
Herzog added 450 activists to the 1,700-member Labor Party central committee in a political deal that will give him more influence in the party’s institutions and perhaps enable him to delay the next race for the party chairmanship.
The race currently must be held by May 2016, according to the party bylaws, but Herzog likely will now be able to change them.
He also could use his additional power to pass a proposal to enter Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, but he indicated in his speech to the convention that he was in no hurry to join the coalition at a time when Netanyahu was failing to stop terror.
“The prime minister is shell-shocked,” Herzog said. “It is no longer just a wave.
Israelis wake up in the morning and go to work and don’t know if it is the last day of their lives because they might get stabbed on the bus or run over. The streets of Israel have made Israelis into actors in a game of Russian roulette.”
Herzog told the crowd that the next election will take place “sooner than we can imagine” and that he would build the Zionist Union into a larger bloc of parties that would run together and could win the next general election.
Critics of Herzog’s decision heckled him and even booed him. Balloons at the event were printed with a slogan that called adding the activists to the central committee shameful.
Labor MK Yossi Yonah, who slammed Herzog’s political move last week, reached an understanding with him in advance of the convention that Herzog would no longer add members to the central committee who were not elected, as the other 1,700 were.
“It is good that the party chairman understood and promised that such undemocratic moves will disappear,” Yonah said.
Yonah criticized the Netanyahu government’s socioeconomic policies, while speaker after speaker at the event said the party should not join the coalition.
Reports over the weekend suggested that Herzog was still negotiating joining the government in place of Bayit Yehudi, with the Labor leader becoming foreign minister.
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett told Army Radio he was not aware of negotiations taking place to replace him.
“It’s the prime minister’s decision whether we stay in the government,” Bennett said. “Until then, I’ll continue to enjoy serving as education minister. I hope we stay in the government as long as it remains a nationalist government.
If they change the coalition guidelines and become a left-wing government that endorses a Palestinian state, we won’t be there.”