Yacimovich prepared to defend title in two rounds of Labor races

Labor bylaws permit another primary to be held in the months ahead of a general election.

July 15, 2013 23:31
1 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 is getting ready for the possibility that she might have to defend her title in not one, but two primaries ahead of the next general election, sources close to Yacimovich said on Monday.

The MK announced Monday that she hoped a November 14 primary would be approved at a Labor convention that is expected to be held on July 28. But she also said Labor bylaws permit another primary to be held in the months ahead of a general election.

In 2001, then-defense minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer defeated then-Knesset speaker Avraham Burg to become Labor leader, but in another primary the following year, then-Haifa mayor Amram Mitzna beat Ben-Eliezer.

A source close to former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi said Ashkenazi expects the same scenario to happen again, allowing him to unseat Yacimovich in a second Labor primary.

Yacimovich’s associates said that if she saw multiple polls ahead of the next general election indicating that Labor could win 15 more seats if Ashkenazi replaced her at the helm of the party, she would not prevent another primary from being held.

“I would not force myself where I am not wanted,” she said in a closed conversation.

The three candidates against Yacimovich in the current race – MKs Isaac Herzog, Eitan Cabel and Erel Margalit – met at Margalit’s house in the capital’s Ein Kerem neighborhood on Monday to plan strategy against her.

They all oppose Yacimovich’s efforts to block new members from joining the party and voting in the primary.

Yacimovich was asked in radio interviews whether she would join Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government after the primary. She responded with an emphatic no, saying she would only enter the coalition if a peace agreement with the Palestinians was reached and up for a vote.

In a joyous post on her official Facebook page, Yacimovich celebrated passing 100,000 likes. In doing so, she joined Netanyahu, Finance Minister Yair Lapid, MK Avigdor Liberman and model Bar Refaeli among the few Israelis who have achieved that feat.

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