(photo credit: KNESSET)
With so many other parties focused on socioeconomic issues in this election, Yisrael Beytenu threw itself into that arena by putting Knesset Committee for Children’s Rights chairwoman Orly Levy-Abecassis in No. 2 spot on the party list, after Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman.
Levy-Abecassis, an award-winning parliamentarian who is active on social issues, said she helped bring a change in the Yisrael Beytenu’s outlook on Tuesday, the morning after her position was officially announced.
“This is a statement that social issues will be at the fore,” she told Army Radio. “Since joining the party, I worked on issues of at-risk youth, welfare, things people deal with every day, and now I say, well done, Yisrael Beytenu, for bringing that to the fore. I’m sure we’ll be able to do even more.”
According to Levy-Abecassis, one of the only changes Yisrael Beytenu has made in its positions over time are on socioeconomic issues, and she expressed pride in having a hand in this.
Yisrael Beytenu unveiled its campaign slogans last week – “Ariel for Israel, Umm el-Fahm for Palestine” and “The bottom line is Liberman” – and neither has anything to do with socioeconomic issues.
Despite this, Levy-Abecassis denied that she is simply a fig leaf covering up the party’s lack of focus on such matters.
“People put our party in a certain box, no matter what we do,” she said. “The fact is, there is great esteem for the things I did [in the Knesset], and they were all under Yisrael Beytenu. In many battles, [Liberman] stood with me.”
Levy-Abecassis pointed to Safed Mayor Ilan Shohat, fourth on the list, as someone else who is socially minded.
“We are people who know about the problems in the periphery – not from studies and statistics, but from our own work, from looking people in the eyes,” she said. “People are dealing with great difficulties and they are not alien to us.”
Levy-Abecassis turned down an offer to move to the Likud – the party in which her father, David, was an MK for almost 37 years and foreign minister three times, and in which her brother, Jackie Levy, now has a realistic spot on the list for the next Knesset, because she does not believe in the party’s ability to bring about socioeconomic changes.
The Yisrael Beytenu MK criticized Yesh Atid even more harshly, saying that former finance minister Yair Lapid put her social legislation “in the graveyard,” by appealing all of them after approval by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation.
“[Lapid] wanted to kill anything that helped weak populations.
Whenever I proposed bills, they said I’m embarrassing the finance minister,” Levy-Abecassis lamented.
“Yisrael Beytenu may not have generals, but the other parties’ Achilles’ heel is parliamentary work,” she added.