Yacimovich says she will 'very likely' run against Herzog in Labor race

Joint List head Odeh calls on Netanyahu to resign immediately.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN, NATHAN WISE
January 30, 2016 15:12
3 minute read.
Yacimovich and Herzog

Yacimovich and Herzog. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

MK Shelly Yacimovich said on Saturday that there is a “high likelihood” she would run for leader of the Zionist Union’s main component, the Labor Party, in the next primary, but that she had not yet made a final decision.

Speaking at a cultural event in Kfar Saba, Yacimovich it was her “obligation to respond” after Herzog presented a plan in Paris last week that would see Israel separate from the Palestinians and after he said that attempts to reach an agreement establishing a Palestinian state were unrealistic.

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“At the end of a week in which the peace camp was under great attack by extremist right-wing elements, it is clear to everyone that Herzog’s remarks to [French President François Hollande] were wrong,” she said.

The attack Yacimovich spoke of was a reference to NGO Im Tirtzu’s campaign this past week, in which it labeled hundreds of Israeli cultural figures as foreign agents for their affiliations or sympathies with leftwing groups.

“This is definitely not the time to shift rightward,” Yacimovich said. “With regard to the matter at hand, giving up on diplomatic negotiations is a mistake. If there is a lesson to be learned from the last wave of terrorism, it is that the security forces, as excellent as they are, are not the solution, and there is an existential requirement for a dynamic diplomatic channel.”

Yacimovich said it was Labor’s role to lead the way on diplomacy and not to waver in the face of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “hopeless vision.” She said it was her obligation to respond to Herzog because what he said constituted the complete opposite of Labor’s ideology and that if she or her colleagues would go along with it, it would be a betrayal of their positions.

“Even Netanyahu would not dare say something so extreme that runs contrary to our worldview,” she said.

Herzog’s office responded to Yacimovich on Saturday with a statement that questioned why she was against Herzog’s plan to separate from the Palestinians.

“Netanyahu would not dare say things that Herzog said, because he is restrained by messianic supporters on the extreme Right,” the statement said. “Does Shelly support the messianic vision of an Arab-Jewish state? Is this the reason that she opposes Herzog’s separation plan, a plan that will block the creation of an Arab-Jewish state and guarantee that Israel will remain a Jewish state?” The next leadership race in the Labor Party is set for May, but Yacimovich said she agreed with Herzog to postpone it to August. Herzog beat incumbent Yacimovich in the last race in November 2013, winning 58.5 percent of 28,806 votes cast. She polled 41.5 percent.

Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On called Herzog “a caricature of an opposition leader” who sounds too much like Netanyahu.

Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List, demanded that Herzog resign.

“There is no opposition leader in Israel,” Odeh said in Holon. “Bujie [Herzog] is a pale shadow of Netanyahu, and people will always prefer the original and not the shadow.

He needs to resign immediately from this important position, because there is no solution besides the two-statesolution, a Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel and not instead of Israel.

“Herzog is not suited to be the leader of the opposition, because the essence of the role is to present an alternative to the government. Instead of presenting an alternative he only strengthens the feeling of despair, and despair is Netanyahu’s strongest card. Bujie has turned into the person who most strengthens Netanyahu’s government.”

The Zionist Union responded that by rejecting Herzog’s plan, Odeh was playing into the hands of the Right.

“Herzog’s plan will prevent the disaster of a single Arab-Jewish state, enable keeping the vision of a twostate solution, and maintain Israel as a Jewish, democratic state,” the party said. “Odeh apparently prefers that Netanyahu stay in power because it suits his political goals.”


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