ben eliezer writing 311.
(photo credit: Eli Neeman)
The Labor Party’s elder statesman, MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, intends to endorse a
candidate, if, as expected, the five candidate September 12 leadership race ends
in a run-off race nine days later, Ben-Eliezer told The Jerusalem Post on
Ben-Eliezer, 75, has long been seen as the party’s strongman, and
even though his closest allies among Labor activists have scattered among the
candidates, he could play a significant part in deciding who the next Labor
chairman will be.
“Fuad [Ben-Eliezer’s nickname] still has strength, and
he can be a kingmaker,” a spokesman for one of the candidates said. “There’s a
reason why people keep going to see him.”
Ben-Elizer was initially seen
as a backer of former Labor chairman Amram Mitzna. On a visit to Mitzna in
December in which Ben-Eliezer urged Mitzna to run, Ben-Eliezer even said that
“only Mitzna can save the party.” But since then, Ben- Eliezer has maintained
Some 40 activists from Labor’s young guard who support Mitzna
wrote Ben-Eliezer on Sunday, urging him to reconsider his neutrality for the
good of the party.
“Who among the candidates can fight Bibi [Binyamin
Netanyahu] and the Right and make Labor ethical, socioeconomic, dominant, and
relevant in the next general election?” the candidates wrote Ben-Eliezer.
“That’s why we decided to write you and ask you to get off the fence and take an
active step for the good of Labor’s success and its return to center stage on
the political map.”
When asked about the letter, Ben-Eliezer reiterated
that he would “support all the candidates” until September 12, but he revealed
for the first time that if there is a second round, he will choose a candidate
based on the contender’s leadership, personality and ability to bring Labor as
many Knesset seats as possible.
“I was chairman of Labor and I know what
is needed for the job,” Ben-Eliezer said.
The one candidate seemed as
least likely to obtain Ben-Eliezer’s support is MK Shelly Yacimovich, who openly
sparred with him on numerous occasions.
Critics of Yacimovich, including
former Labor ministers, have asked Ben-Eliezer to endorse a candidate now,
because they fear that Yacimovich could obtain the 40 percent of the vote
necessary to avoid a run-off race.
Kadima leader Tzipi Livni criticized
Yacimovich over the weekend in an interview with Ma’ariv
. The opposition leader
painted Yacimovich as an extremist on socioeconomic issues.
“If Bibi is
at one extreme with his capitalism that tramples over people, she is at the
other extreme,” Livni said.
Yacimovich responded that “Netanyahu and
Livni are Siamese twins on socioeconomic issues and differences between them
cannot be found, even under a magnifying glass.