Amram Mitzna 311.
(photo credit: Ron Friedman)
Former Labor chairman Amram Mitzna has not decided yet whether to return to national politics and seek his former job, but current leadership candidates Avishay Braverman and Isaac Herzog have already started criticizing him.
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After five years as mayor of the Negev development town Yeruham, Mitzna returned to the national political limelight last week when Industry, Trade, and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer told him that only he can save the Labor Party. Current Labor chairman Ehud Barak has also urged Mitzna to return to being one of Labor's leaders but Barak's associates have denied that he is considering not running for re-election.
Speaking at a cultural event in Ramat Gan on Saturday, Braverman attacked Mitzna for meeting last week with Meretz head Haim Oron, who is trying to form a new party to the left of Labor in which Meretz will take part.
"Amram Mitzna is a worthy man, but his attempts to shop around in Meretz
and other left-wing movements raise questions about his desire and
ability to lead a party that will conquer the center of the political
map in Israel," Braverman said. "Labor cannot lean so far left that it
perpetuates the viewpoint that Kadima is the only party that appeals to
centrists, who are the majority of the Israeli public."
At the event, Braverman explained why he is pushing for Labor to leave
the coalition due to the stalemate in the diplomatic process. When his
associates were asked how he can criticize Mitzna when he himself is
taking a left-wing position in Labor, they said that Braverman was
more centrist than Mitzna.
"He has nothing against Mitzna," a source close to Braverman said.
"Avishay is center Left. He is Labor as it should be. Mitzna is more
where Meretz is."
Braverman's associates denied that he had met with Kadima officials
before he decided to enter politics with Labor. They confirmed that
Kadima had wooed him but he had always been a Labor man.
Herzog welcome Mitzna's possible return to national politics when he
spoke to reporters in Paris on Thursday. But he criticized Barak and
Ben-Eliezer for trying to decide Labor's next leader on their own.
"Labor is not the property of Barak or Fuad [Ben-Eliezer's nickname],"
Herzog told Israel Radio. "The elections should be advanced and
everyone should be free to run."
Mitzna declined to respond to Braverman or Herzog. He said he was not
close to making a decision about whether to return to national politics
and if so, with which party.
When asked what factors he was considering, Mitzna said he would need to
examine whether Labor was fixable. He said it would be difficult to
repair the party's image, but that replacing Labor with a new party was a fallback plan.
Mitzna was part of a team that took Labor to court for preventing an
election inside the party for its candidate for the chairmanship of
the Jewish National Fund/Keren Kayemet L'Israel. The fate of the post
could be decided on Sunday at a meeting of Labor's executive committee
in Kfar Saba.