Labor party leaders 390.
(photo credit: Lahav Harkov)
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
“We will fight Netanyahu and his partners every day and every
hour,” Yacimovich told the faction during the nearly four-hour
“There is no difference between the prime minister and his
partners. [Yesh Atid leader Yair] Lapid also has an extremist capitalist
Participants in the meeting gave mixed descriptions of the
mood in the faction meeting, which was closed to the press.
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
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
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
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.
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
“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
“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
“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.