Margalit pulls out of Labor contest, backs Herzog

Party leadership candidate Yacimovich: Race is between me and Peretz.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN,
September 8, 2011 03:52
2 minute read.
Erel Margalit

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

 
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The Labor primary heated up on Wednesday night when venture capitalist Erel Margalit suddenly dropped out of the race and endorsed MK Isaac Herzog.

The agreement between Herzog and Margalit was intended to include Amram Mitzna as well, but he decided against backing Herzog in Monday’s race after three weeks of talks between the candidates at Margalit’s office in Jerusalem and at a restaurant near Modi’in.

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“We tried to reach a consensus, and I am sorry that Mitzna didn’t join us,” Margalit told reporters at Wednesday’s Labor convention in Kfar Saba. “I respect Mitzna, but Labor needs a young, dynamic leader who can unite the party, and that’s ‘Buji’ [Herzog]” Herzog said the agreement between them was not a deal but “understandings of responsible people.”

He warned that if Mitzna did not endorse him, “something could happen that is not for the good of the party,” referring to a victory by MK Shelly Yacimovich.

In what Herzog called “a cynical political maneuver,” Yacimovich told the packed auditorium that the race was only between herself and her former political mentor, MK Amir Peretz.

“Now it is clear from all the polls that there are two candidates left,” she said. “The vote will be between me and Amir. Any vote for any other candidate – as skilled as he may be – is a waste of a vote. This election is an opportunity. It is forbidden to waste it.”

Herzog responded by warning that a Yacimovich victory would split the party, because so many of its leaders shun her exclusive focus on socioeconomic issues.

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In his speech to the convention, Mitzna mocked Margalit for endorsing Herzog, saying that he promised a revolution and brought tragedy.

Earlier on Wednesday, Margalit dropped his request for an external court to delay the race after it became clear that he would not win the case.

In a hearing at the Central District Court in Petah Tikva, Margalit argued that the party’s final membership list should have been published 42 days before the elections, and the fact that the list had only been published 12 days before made the vote illegal.

Margalit’s attorney, Shmulik Kasoto, asked that the court order Labor to delay the election by 30 days.

“It is the party’s obligation to follow the regulations, and if the party does not comply with its policies each party member is entitled to apply and demand that action is taken,” said Kasoto.

However, attorney Yigal Shapira, representing Labor, slammed Margalit’s decision to bring the petition to court.

“We already hired places for election day and we cannot renege on those arrangements,” said Shapira.

“And also for the candidates, people already know the elections are on 12 September and we already reserved that day. Democracy must accept the majority view and the party’s regulations must be respected.”

At the end of the hearing, Margalit agreed to drop the petition even though he maintained that the party’s decision to schedule the election for September 12 had caused him injustice.

Judge Ofer Grosskopf agreed to cancel the petition without awarding costs.

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