Yacimovich announces push for early November 14 Labor primary

Labor leader to seek approval of date at convention; early primary would likely freeze out new candidates such as Ashkenazi.

July 14, 2013 10:58
2 minute read.
Shelly Yacimovich at the President's residence, January 31, 2013.

Shelly Yacimovich at the President's residence 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich called for a November 14 primary for head of the party at a Tel Aviv press conference Sunday and immediately came under attack by the candidates who intend to run against her.

MK Erel Margalit complained that Labor lost a winnable general election in January because Yacimovich was not a team player.

Margalit compared her to basketball legend Michael Jordan, saying the shooting guard did not win his Chicago Bulls championship until he learned how to pass.

“Yacimovich failed in the election,” Margalit said. “The 15 seats she won are all she could get. The next election will be on who can face off against [Yesh Atid leader] Yair Lapid and take back the votes he drained from us.”

Margalit called Yacimovich a Communist McCarthyist. He said he did not have a problem with the date she chose for the race, as long as Labor’s institutions would force her to conduct a membership drive that she did not want.

MK Isaac Herzog questioned the timing of the race at a time when the attention of the public was focused on its socio economic problems and the civil wars raging in surrounding countries. His associates said he expected a compromise to be reached on holding the race in December, further away from the October 22 municipal elections.

“Why do we need elections now?” Herzog asked. “Is that what interests the public? Holding a leadership primary now looks like narrow politics, which strengthens the public’s impression that we are irrelevant.”

MK Eitan Cabel questioned why Yacimovich announced the election while the party was focused on key parliamentary battles.

“There is no reason in the world to enter such hysteria and pressure when Labor is fighting against the budget,” Cabel said.

Yacimovich did not mention the three MKs in her press conference, choosing instead to focus her attention on former IDF chief Gabi Ashkenazi and daring him to challenge her without mentioning him by name.

“I call upon anyone else who sees himself as fit to lead the party to run,” she said. “There is no cooling off period in running for party leader. The race will be on our ideological path. After the election, we will accept the voters’ will and continue on with our internal conflicts behind us.”

In an effort to draft Ashkenazi, she said she would waive the minimum requirement for membership in the party. She did not rule out holding another primary ahead of the next general election.

When asked why she was expediting the race, she said she wanted to hold it in September, before the municipal races, but mayoral candidates persuaded her to wait.

“My feeling was that the primaries had already begun,” she said.

“I did not want Labor to pay a price for primaries that were already taking place and causing damage.”

Since 2000, Labor has replaced its leader six times. If Yacimovich emerges victorious, she will be the first Labor head to win back-toback leadership races since President Shimon Peres in the 1980s.

“I am sure Labor members are sick of the constant leadership changes that have not helped the party return to power,” she said. “I intend to make history by winning twice in a row.”

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