No knives expected in Labor - yet

Labor has switched leaders every two years or so since Ehud Barak lost the election for prime minister in 2001.

March 18, 2015 22:12
2 minute read.
Issac Herzog

Issac Herzog votes in Tel Aviv. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog is expected to remain the unchallenged leader of the Labor Party despite its tradition of quickly deposing leaders who lose elections, sources in the party said on Wednesday night.

The Zionist Union is a Center-Left alliance of the Labor and Hatnua parties.

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Labor has switched leaders every two years or so since Ehud Barak lost his bid for reelection as prime minister in 2001. One of the reasons is a clause in the party’s constitution requiring a leadership race every time an election is lost.

Party officials said that after Herzog won 24 Knesset seats, they did not expect a leadership race to be initiated any time soon, but that it would happen within the required 14 months of the election loss. Former Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich, whom Herzog replaced, gave him her full support on Wednesday and her associates said she would continue to do so for the time being.

“Shelly will be the last potential candidate to unsheathe knives and start undermining Herzog,” a source close to her said.

In a Zionist Union faction meeting in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, no one criticized Herzog or his No. 2, MK Tzipi Livni. There was also not a single voice calling for joining the government that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in the process of forming.

After refusing to concede when exit polls predicted a narrow Netanyahu victory on Tuesday night, Herzog called Netanyahu to congratulate him on Wednesday morning when the prime minister’s reelection became decisive.

“We have proven that we know how to be a fighting opposition,” Herzog said at the start of the faction meeting at the Zionist Union’s campaign headquarters in Tel Aviv. “We’ll provide an alternative on every issue to a narrow right-wing government whose time is limited.”

Livni called the right-wing government the prime minister intends to form “Netanyahu’s dream and Israel’s nightmare.”

MK Nachman Shai said the public will receive the government the results indicate that it wanted. He said he was very worried about how the government will conduct itself.

“The government will face huge challenges on every front,” Shai said. “We’ll see if it can deal with them. I’m very worried about what this government will do.”

Economist Manuel Trajtenberg took part in the faction meeting. He received a reserved slot on the Zionist Union list and was its candidate for finance minister. But he did not indicate on Wednesday whether he would decide to enter the Knesset and serve as an opposition MK.

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