(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Labor will run in the March 17 election without a candidate who achieved a rank higher than colonel, after its leaders turned down a request by former defense minister and IDF chief of staff Shaul Mofaz to merge with his Kadima party.
The only security figure on Labor’s joint list with Hatnua will be MK Omer Bar-Lev, who headed the IDF’s General Staff Reconnaissance Unit.
The 11th slot on the list, which had been reserved for a security figure, is expected to instead go to economist Manuel Trajtenberg and Hatnua’s 16th slot on the list will be given to former Kadima MK Yoel Hasson.
Instead of Mofaz, Labor’s candidate for defense minister will be former intelligence chief Amos Yadlin. Labor leader Isaac Herzog and Hatnua head Tzipi Livni introduced him Monday at a Tel Aviv press conference, but party officials said afterward that he would not be on Labor’s list.
Yadlin will become defense minister only if Herzog forms a government and is able to keep the defense portfolio.
He has promised the finance portfolio to Trajtenberg and the foreign affairs brief and a rotation in the Prime Minister’s Office to Livni.
Yadlin said if Herzog wants him on the list he would be, but that he does not have to be a Knesset candidate.
He said he would continue to head Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, which he has directed for three years.
“Labor has an excellent list of parliamentarians who will do the work in the best way,” he said. “I can contribute my security experience to the job of defense minister.”
Asked by The Jerusalem Post if he is not more right wing than the party as a board member of The Ir David Foundation (Elad), he said Jerusalem and the City of David are at the heart of Israel’s consensus.
“The Likud didn’t unite Jerusalem, Mapai [Labor’s forerunner] did,” he said. “All prime ministers built in Jerusalem and were aware of the historic connection of the Jewish people to the City of David. It is important to differentiate Jerusalem, which should be strengthened, and building settlements that will prevent a two-state solution.”
The invitation to Yadlin came after Mofaz turned down an offer his associates termed insulting.
Mofaz demanded to have his Kadima party join Labor as a faction with two realistic seats on the list and a statement from Herzog that he would be Labor’s candidate for defense minister.
He expected to be offered the 11th slot on Labor’s list, which has been reserved for a security figure.
Instead, Herzog sent Labor faction chairman Eitan Cabel to Mofaz’s Kochav Yair home to offer him the 20th slot, not another more realistic spot, and no guarantee that he would be appointed a minister at all.
Mofaz’s associates said Herzog had been wooing the former defense minister for months but changed his tune since Hatnua head Tzipi Livni made a bond with Labor. They said Herzog stopped speaking to Mofaz three weeks ago.
Sources close to Mofaz accused Livni of preventing Kadima from joining a potential center-left bloc of parties that would have run together. But Livni said Sunday that she was not opposed to Mofaz joining her on the Labor-Hatnua joint list, despite their bitter fights in the past.
At an event in Hod Hasharon Saturday night, Herzog said he viewed Livni as a fitting candidate for defense minister. Bar-Lev also said he wanted her to become defense minister.
In an interview with Israel Radio, former defense minister Amir Peretz, who will be eighth on the Labor list, said he was not a candidate to return to the post. Former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi has also turned down an offer to join the list.
Mofaz has not decided his next move, but he is seriously considering quitting politics.