ophir pines 224.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The Labor Party’s elder statesman, MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, met with former MK
Ophir Paz-Pines on Friday in an effort to persuade him to return to politics
Paz-Pines came to Ben- Eliezer’s Rishon Lezion home to visit
the 75-year-old MK, who is recovering from pneumonia that nearly killed him. When
he left the hospital last month, he vowed to do whatever possible to return
Labor to its former stature.
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The return of Paz-Pines to Labor is
important for Ben- Eliezer, who sees him as one of Israel’s top young
Paz-Pines, who quit the Knesset and at least temporarily left
politics in January 2010, is also likely to be wooed by new parties forming on
Paz-Pines has not ruled out returning to Labor and has not
decided yet whether to endorse one of the six candidates running in the
Sept. 12 Labor leadership race.
Over the last few months, multiple
candidates have met with Paz-Pines and sought his advice, including former party
chairman Amram Mitzna, MK Isaac Herzog, venture capitalist Erel Margalit and
Union of Local Authorities in Israel head Shlomo Buhbut.
candidate, MK Shelly Yacimovich, attacked Mitzna on Friday, calling him “Barak
with a beard.”
When Ben-Eliezer ran against Mitzna for the Labor
leadership in 2002, he infamously called Mitzna “Yossi Beilin with a beard,” in
an effort to paint him as a leftist.
A Ha’aretz columnist used the
epithet “Barak with a beard” to describe Mitzna on Friday in the newspaper’s
Hebrew edition after Mitzna suggested reserving every other slot on Labor’s next
Knesset list for new candidates that he would select.
Yacimovich took the
epithet, which was left out of the newspaper’s English edition, and made it a
headline on her website. She condemned Mitzna and warned that he would mistreat
Labor like it’s last chairman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
fight against such anti-democratic ideas before they gain support,” Yacimovich
wrote her supporters on the site. “You know that I make a point of running this
primary on ideology without criticizing other candidates, but this crossed a red
“A party chairman can’t appoint who he wants – even theoretically.
Party members should have the democratic right to select their leader and
There is no bypass road to democracy.”
spokesman for Mitzna responded that “we don’t intend to criticize other
But in a parlor meeting in Kfar Saba, Mitzna said, “I intend
to make Labor a party with a clear identity and not a niche party,” which was
seen as a criticism of Yacimovich’s focus on socioeconomic issues.