Labor asks Harish to temporarily head party

Harish will hold the title of head of Labor’s secretariat until a Labor convention that can formally approve him as temporary chairman.

January 24, 2011 05:51
2 minute read.
Former industry and trade minister Micha Harish.

Micha Harish 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Defense Minister Ehud Barak will soon have a replacement at the helm of Labor, albeit a temporary one: former industry and trade minister Micha Harish.

The eight remaining Labor MKs decided on Sunday to turn to Harish to head the party until an election is held for a new leader. Harish will hold the title of head of Labor’s secretariat until a Labor convention that can formally approve him as temporary chairman.

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Harish, 74, served as Labor secretary-general when the party won 44 seats in the 1992 election under Yitzhak Rabin.

A native of Romania, he served in the Knesset from 1974 to 1996. He was chosen because he is not part of any camp in the very divided party.

“Micha is very able and modest and people have high regard and respect for him,” MK Isaac Herzog said. “He is efficient, and he knows the nitty-gritty of management.

He is someone we can turn to in deciding the party’s timetable.”

In a three-hour meeting at Labor’s Kfar Saba headquarters, the faction decided to wait until Harish takes office to decide key issues like when they should elect a new leader.

Herzog, who is one of the front-runners, wants the race held as soon as possible, while other possible candidates believe more time is needed first to elect new party institutions.

“I want it earlier than others do, but in the end everyone understands we need someone soon who can rehabilitate the party and put it back on its feet,” Herzog said.

Each Labor MK spoke for 10 to 15 minutes at the meeting and gave his or her impressions about where Labor is headed and what needs to be done to save the party.

“Everyone spoke from his heart,” MK Daniel Ben-Simon said. “It was really touching and really good therapy.”

Labor MK Amir Peretz will present the party’s first no-confidence motion in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government on Monday.

But the political highlight of Monday is expected to be a ceremony at the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry in which former minister Binyamin Ben- Eliezer hands over the reins of the ministry to his sworn enemy who deposed him, Independence faction MK Shalom Simhon.

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