Labor party chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Labor and Yesh Atid MKs are outraged at a new policy of opposition leader Shelly
Yacimovich (Labor) to not tolerate absences from her MKs or permit them to
offset coalition members who miss the budget votes expected to occupy the
Knesset until the beginning of August, calling her
Offsetting – or kizuzim – is a common practice in the
Knesset whereby an MK in the coalition or opposition will skip a vote to
counteract the absence of a lawmaker on the other side. Legislators use this
practice for myriad reasons, ranging from ideological stances to health to
family weddings and other events.
“Members of the faction are bitter, to
say the least, about the policy,” a high-ranking Labor source said. “Yacimovich
is so stubborn and unwilling to budge; she’s become
Yacimovich’s policy first came to light on Monday, when,
following her speech opposing the budget before its first plenum vote, Finance
Minister Yair Lapid approached Labor faction chairman Isaac Herzog. Lapid
explained to Herzog that Education Minister Shai Piron was resting at home after
a hospital stay due to chest pains, and that MK Karin Alharrar (Yesh Atid), who
has muscular dystrophy and is wheelchair-bound, is bedridden after giving birth
to her first son. The Yesh Atid leader asked Herzog for two opposition MKs to
offset their absence.
Yacimovich, who was sitting next to Herzog, heard
Lapid and responded “Under absolutely no circumstances.”
furious,” an observer recounted. “Smoke was coming out of his ears.”
Aliza Lavie took to Facebook on Thursday to express her disappointment with
“Is this the opposition leader’s contribution to helping
women join the workforce?” she asked. “Is this the example she sets for men who
don’t hire women because they’re afraid they’ll take pregnancy leave?
“Apparently, Yacimovich’s ‘sisters’ belong to a very specific political sector,”
Lavie said, referring to the Labor leader’s use of the term in a speech
On Wednesday, MK Ronen Hoffman (Yesh Atid) discovered that MK
Nachman Shai (Labor) will not be taking part in a mission to the Council of
Europe because of Labor’s policy.
“This is an important diplomatic
mission, but without someone to offset me, I can’t go,” Hoffman explained. “I
would expect [Labor] to put the good of the Knesset and the country first, and
try to improve Israel’s foreign relations.”
Last month, Hoffman and Shai
attended a Council of Europe meeting in Strasbourg, in which the organization’s
diplomatic body condemned settlement construction and demanded the release of
At the request of the Knesset’s Foreign Relations
Department, the two planned to attend a follow-up meeting to discourage the
council from making further decisions that could be harmful to Israel.
Knesset source called the last-minute cancellation “a scandal,” and the Knesset
Channel reported Thursday that the legislature will still have to pay for the
trip – which was planned for Monday thru Wednesday – because it is too late to
get refunds from airlines and hotels.
“Yacimovich doesn’t understand the
importance of Israel’s foreign relations,” a Yesh Atid source said.
“Unfortunately, she prefers to give up the opportunity to defend Israel’s
interests in Europe for the good of political arguing and a populist headline in
A Labor source said many in the faction don’t understand why
she wouldn’t make an exception for Shai and Hoffman, since they offset each
other. The source also took issue with an email Yacimovich sent to Labor MKs
Wednesday reminding them that she expects full attendance, calling it a “basic
condition for effectiveness as a faction.”
“We don’t think it’s a problem
for them to go abroad, even though we all understand the importance of voting
against the budget. She’s in hysterics over the offsetting,” the source
A source close to Yacimovich quipped that “Ronen Hoffman isn’t
going to save the world. Yesh Atid needs to have some
“If diplomacy is so important to Lapid, he should talk to
the prime minister, get us out of the freeze in negotiations with the
Palestinians and bring peace,” the source added.
response stated that “the faction decided not to allow offsetting in votes on
the budget. It is no secret that we believe this is a budget that severely harms
the Israeli public, and it is our responsibility to protect the public via
intensive parliamentary work.”
A Yesh Atid spokeswoman said “these
incidents speak for themselves” and that the party will “continue to be
considerate and sensitive to members of all parties when they need mutual