Analysis: Labor members send Palestinians a memo

In Tuesday's primary, Labor members made it clear: We are back dealing with ourselves and our wallets again. Socioeconomic issues will come first.

January 14, 2015 13:57
2 minute read.
Tel Aviv

Labor leader Isaac Herzog and Hatnua leader Tzipi Livni take part in a joint news conference in Tel Aviv, December 10. (photo credit: REUTERS)

When Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog defeated incumbent Shelly Yacimovich in November 2013 to take over the party, it was a signal that members wanted the focus changed from the socioeconomic issues she championed back to the peace process.

Under Herzog’s helm, the party that former prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres led to the diplomatic process that began in Oslo returned to focus on the Palestinians. But that was when ill-fated talks led by US Secretary of State John Kerry were still beginning. Fourteen months later, the Palestinians are trying to put Israel on trial and get a state recognized unilaterally.

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Polls show Israelis more skeptical than ever on chances for an agreement with the Palestinians being reached. Herzog makes a point of avoiding saying the word “shalom” in his speeches.

Herzog made a deal with Hatnua chairman Tzipi Livni, who led those talks, which gave her the second slot on the joint Labor-Hatnua candidates list. But, in Tuesday’s primary, Labor members sent the Palestinians a memo: We are back to dealing with ourselves and our wallets again. Socioeconomic issues will come first.

They gave Yacimovich the most votes, followed by the leaders of the 2011 socioeconomic protests, Stav Shaffir and Itzik Shmuli. All three have a lot more to say about the poor Israelis in Ramle than poor Palestinians in Ramallah.

With former welfare minister Moshe Kahlon’s Koolanu party expected to join any coalition no matter who forms it, the next government’s focus will be socioeconomic. That could make it easier for Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Herzog to coexist in a broad national unity government.

Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman also could be part of such a government, especially after Labor members turned down the two candidates who would have protested a bond with him: Moshe Mizrachi, who investigated him when he was in the police, and anti-corruption crusader Eldad Yaniv.

Liberman can also be happy that there is no immigrant from the former Soviet Union among Labor’s top 27 candidates. Former Kadima MK Robert Tibayev won the 28th slot reserved for an immigrant, even though he received just 1,097 votes. Tibayev secured the 30th most votes out of 36 candidates.

Reserved slots also pushed forward female candidates. Labor is boasting that it will have three women in the top five slots on the list while MK Merav Michaeli is ninth.

But without reserved slots, that is all they would have. Labor’s fourth woman, attorney Revital Swid, received the 14th slot reserved for a woman, but she received fewer votes than Reform Rabbi Gilad Kariv, who placed 32nd.

Swid is Orthodox and a descendant of Jews who were murdered in the 1929 riots in Hebron. That could be added to the memo sent to the Palestinians.

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