Margalit calls to delay Labor Party primary

Yacimovich: “Let’s face reality, Labor leader won’t be prime minister”; Mitzna: “I’m not naïve – it’s realistic that Labor will lead country.”

By
August 30, 2011 16:43
4 minute read.
Erel Margalit

Erel Margalit 521. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

 
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Labor leadership candidate Erel Margalit warned on Tuesday that should the September 12 primary race not be postponed, he would consider taking the party to court.

Labor officially closed its membership rolls on Tuesday evening after a controversial registration drive and thousands of petitions to internal party courts. Margalit explained that the current date was illegal, because according to the party’s regulations, the membership list must be posted 42 days before the primary vote.

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“We’re talking about the democratic pillars of this party,” he said in a letter to the party’s administration. “If they’re unstable, how can Labor ever expect to lead this nation again? I entered political life to help rebuild the party of Ben-Gurion, of Golda, of Rabin. Someone has to stand up and say: ‘This is not the way we do things.’” Margalit said at a meeting on socioeconomic issues at the party’s Kfar Saba headquarters that the ability to run a proper campaign and get elected had been “critically harmed.”

“If we made a mistake and we did not judge correctly how long the election process would take, we can correct this mistake,” he said.

Candidates Amram Mitzna and Amir Peretz pleaded with Margalit at the meeting not to sue the party.

“The election must be held on time,” Mitzna said.

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In his socioeconomic speech, Mitzna blamed the housing crisis on “the policies of the high priest of capitalism, Binyamin Netanyahu.”

When Peretz spoke about the housing crisis, an audience member in a Mitzna shirt shouted at him, “You had a chance to fix things but you chose to be defense minister instead.”

A Peretz supporter then shouted that “Mitzna had a chance and he ran away.”

Last week, candidate Isaac Herzog suggested that Mitzna drop out of the party leadership race and join him, in order to defeat Peretz and MK Shelly Yacimovich, whom Herzog says will divide the party.

Mitzna told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that this is a “crazy idea, and it will never happen.”

“I am the only person in the party who is suitable to be prime minister. I returned in order to lead,” Mitzna explained. “Herzog ought to be more modest.”

Mitzna added that “it is not a coincidence that other candidates are not talking about being prime minister. I am the only candidate that is seen by the public as a potential leader of this country.”

MK Shelly Yacimovich, who is also running for party leadership, said on Tuesday that Labor must “face reality” and admit that the winner of the upcoming primary will not be in the running for prime minister.

“Even if we raise our numbers by a lot, the head of the Labor Party will not be called to the President’s Residence to form the next government,” Yacimovich said during a candidates’ panel discussion in Tel Aviv.

“The fact that we always saw ourselves as part of the leadership led us to lose voters, because we were willing to join any government.”

“Let’s be worthy of growth and be an alternative. Prime Minister is a vision for the future – I will not say anything else, even if it sounds better politically,” she added.

Yacimovich explained that “being in the opposition is not a bad thing. We should only be in the coalition if we have a real, deep ability to influence policy.”

Yacimovich’s remarks were in response to former party leader and current candidate Amram Mitzna’s statement that Labor members are “picking the next prime minister” in the primary.

“I am not being naïve – it’s very realistic,” Mitzna said. “A party that wants to grow should aim high. After all, the Likud came back to power after having only 12 seats in the Knesset.”

MK Amir Peretz also said he is confident that Labor can lead the country.

“All of our hopes are built on a difference of five seats,” Peretz stated, explaining that if the left had more seats than the right, haredi parties would join a Laborled coalition.

“The proletariat voted for us in 2006, and we can bring them back to vote for us again,” he added.

MK Isaac Herzog said that “Labor members are facing a historical moment” in which they will decide whether the party will “cease to exist or not.”

“It is time to bring the party back to the days of Levi Eshkol and activism,” Herzog added.

“I can do this.”

Later in the event, when Margalit took the stand and the microphone stopped working, Herzog jumped from his seat to fix it.

“See, I’m a man of action, not just words,” Herzog quipped.

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