(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The Labor Party central committee decided Sunday to approve a merger with former justice minister Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua party at a convention at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds.
The agreement gives Livni’s party slots 2, 8, 16, 21, 24 and 25 on the Labor list. An additional slot was reserved for a security figure, who is intended to be Kadima head Shaul Mofaz. The rest of Labor’s candidates are to compete in primaries set for January 13.
In a controversial decision, the central committee authorized Herzog to choose what name Labor will run under in the election.
“Leadership is the ability to put your ego aside and work for national interests,” Herzog said. “It’s no secret that I thought long and hard about whether to run together with Livni. I made the decision based on the rule that it’s better to serve the public than your personal interests.”
In an uncharacteristically fiery speech, Herzog repeated the word “revolution” over and over again and said “Yes, yes, I will replace Netanyahu.
I will replace Bibi and we will replace the Likud.”
Herzog said Labor would set the agenda of the next government and ensure there would be social justice. He said Labor would seek a diplomatic agreement, but the word “peace” was absent from the address.
“Labor is marching united to the leadership of the state,” he said. “Tzipi Livni and I will lead Israel to a better future.”
Prior to Herzog’s speech, his former rival in the party, MK Shelly Yacimovich praised him and said she “took off her hat to him,” in making Labor a contender.
“They say our party leader is a nerd,” Labor secretary-general Hilik Bar told the crowd.
“Israel needs a nerd. The nerd will send Netanyahu home and become prime minister.”
Many Labor Knesset candidates came to the event and passed out flyers to the crowd, including American-born reality star Eytan Schwartz and Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin, a former adviser to prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. But Noam Schalit, father of kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit, said he would not run again after faring poorly in the last Labor race.