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Photo by: Lahav Harkov
Labor MKs: Yacimovich left us in the dark
By LAHAV HARKOV
28/01/2013
In first faction meeting, most agree to stay in opposition, but don't hold back criticism of Yacimovich's behavior.
 
Veteran Labor MKs and newcomers criticized party leader Shelly Yacimovich’s handling of the election campaign at Monday’s faction meeting, but most backed her resolve not to join Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition.

“We will fight Netanyahu and his partners every day and every hour,” Yacimovich told the faction during the nearly four-hour meeting.

“There is no difference between the prime minister and his partners. [Yesh Atid leader Yair] Lapid also has an extremist capitalist worldview.”

Participants in the meeting gave mixed descriptions of the mood in the faction meeting, which was closed to the press.

“Everyone let out their frustrations. It was like an anger-management workshop,” a senior party source said.

Another called the meeting “less stormy than expected,” saying “no knives were drawn.”

Many of the party’s 15 current and incoming lawmakers, like Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Isaac Herzog, Eitan Cabel, Miki Rosenthal, Erel Margalit and others, expressed aggravation at being left in the dark about decisions Yacimovich made.

During the discussion about whether to join the coalition, Ben-Eliezer said the talk is irrelevant, because Labor was not offered a part in the government.

When someone else in the room pointed out that Netanyahu called Yacimovich and invited her to negotiate, Ben-Eliezer and others on the party’s Knesset list lamented the fact that the party leader did not notify the MKs.

“[Yacimovich] needs to listen more and share more [with the faction]. Our party has a constitution, and democratic processes need to take place,” Cabel said, in a possible reference to a bylaw calling a primary 14 months after the election if Labor does not form the new government.

One Labor source present in the meeting said Margalit relayed the harshest criticism and seemed to disagree with everything Yacimovich said, in what appeared to be the opening shot in his own primary campaign.

Margalit and Ben-Eliezer favored reviewing options and having an organized decision-making process before making a final decision about staying out of the government.

Herzog supported staying in the opposition but said the options should be discussed within the faction before decisions are made.

MK Nachman Shai saw no other option besides the opposition, and backed Yacimovich.

“It’ll look bad for us to negotiate over nothing. We said we’d be in the opposition, so we have to do it; we’re past the point of no return,” he said.

Incoming MK Itzik Shmuli slammed those talking about even a remote possibility of joining the coalition.

“Less than a month ago, this faction committed to the public that we are an alternative to Netanyahu and will not sit in his government,” he stated.

“Have circumstances really changed? Can we look our voters in the eyes and tell them that, with 15 seats, we can influence government policy? We know that’s not true, and that at any minute the government will pass a budget with major cuts.”

As for the Labor election campaign, one source said, “There are no secrets here. We all saw how it worked – Shelly was in front the whole time.”

“This is the new political culture. It’s all personal,” another source said. “Even if there are good people in the fifth or 10th spot, no one sees the list.”

Ben-Eliezer and Herzog called for the party to examine the campaign to learn lessons for next time, and a committee will start doing so next week.

Several sources in the party pointed to Yacimovich’s focus on social issues as a problem, saying she lost votes because she ignored issues like peace talks and equality in the burden of national service.

“We lost two seats to Meretz because of peace issues, and two to Lapid because of our economic policy,” Herzog said.

Margalit added that Yacimovich’s pet issue, her economic plan, scared away business owners.
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