With a week left until voting commences for the 19th Knesset, Labor leader
Shelly Yacimovich on Tuesday called on all Israeli parties to join her in an
“emergency socioeconomic unity government.”
“We can replace [Prime
Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu and create an emergency socioeconomic unity
government,” she said at her Tel Aviv campaign office, adding, “We remain the
only party fighting for a change in power.”
Though polling as the second
largest party – 18 in the last poll by The Jerusalem Post – Labor remains
significantly behind Netanyahu’s Likud Beytenu list, which polled at 34. If
Yacimovich could persuade enough parties to recommend her to President Shimon
Peres after the elections, he could theoretically task her with forming a
coalition and leading it as prime minister.
Yacimovich accused her
Center-Left rivals – former foreign minister Tzipi Livni and Yesh Atid leader
Yair Lapid, who have refused to rule out joining a Netanyahu-led coalition – of
“putting their tails between their legs” and “crawling” toward
The party, which has campaigned on an economic agenda,
hammered Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz over the 4.2 percent
budget deficit announced this week, which was double the original
“When the deficit is double what was forecast –we’re talking
about NIS 39 billion.
When we divide that among the 2 million families in
Israel, we find that each family has to pay NIS 1,800,” Yacimovich
“Netanyahu is the one who created the problem,” she continued. “The
one who ruined it cannot be the one to fix it.”
Netanyahu, she continued,
was responsible for rises in income taxes, value-added tax (VAT), food prices,
housing prices, and electricity and water tariffs, which she said had burdened
the middle class – which she called the engine of economic growth. If this does
not change, she said, “the economy won’t grow and the deficit will
expand. It’s so simple.”
Yacimovich said the prime minister was
planning on raising taxes and VAT again, and continuing policies she said were
responsible for Israel’s economic deterioration.
“It turns out he’s not a
macroeconomic genius,” she added wryly.
Netanyahu said on Monday he would
do “everything in his power” to avoid having to raise taxes.
attempted to deflect criticism on the deficit Tuesday, reminding critics that
Israel is still growing and had relatively low unemployment.
“In order to
see the whole picture, it is worth emphasizing that even in 2012, Israel
continued to lead the Western nations in two most important parameters for
dealing with the global crisis,” he said.