(photo credit: Associated Press)
MK Avishay Braverman surprised his fellow candidates in the Labor leadership race on Thursday when he announced that he would not run in the September 7 primary.
Braverman made the announcement via a text message his spokeswoman sent during a meeting of Labor’s executive committee in Kfar Saba that he did not attend. He is expected to call a press conference for Sunday to reveal his future plans.
Shelly Yacimovich announces run for Labor chair
Sources close to Braverman denied a report that he would be quitting politics. The sources said he would remain in the Knesset and not leave the party.
As a World Bank economist and successful Ben-Gurion University of the Negev president, Braverman entered politics with great fanfare in 2005 after then- Labor chairman Amir Peretz asked him to run for Knesset. But Peretz disappointed him by not appointing him a minister, and he never rose beyond the rank of minister-without-portfolio.
Polls showed that Braverman did not have much of a chance in a race against MKs Isaac Herzog and Shelly Yacimovich and possibly also Peretz and other candidates.
Yacimovich and Herzog were surprised to hear about Braverman’s departure when they were shown the text message by a reporter forThe Jerusalem Post at the meeting.
“He was a fitting candidate and is an important figure who I hope stays in Labor because we need him,” Yacimovich said.
Herzog called Braverman a friend and praised him for making an effort in the race.
“The race is now wide open,” Herzog said. “I am ready for a challenge and I am sure I will win.”
In a sign that he intends to announce his candidacy soon, Peretz criticized Yacimovich and Braverman Thursday morning in an interview with Israel Radio. He said that he waited until he had sufficient experience under his belt before he ran for Labor leader.
“It is important to be ready and properly developed politically,” Peretz said. “It took me years of work before I felt I was ready. This doesn’t rule out people who consider themselves ready after a few years. Everyone has their own criteria.”
At the executive committee meeting, Labor launched a new interactive
website, and the candidates who attended gave brief campaign speeches.
“It is good that there are many candidates,” Herzog said in his speech.
“It shows that people think our stock will rise and that we have hope
for the future.”