Candidates for Labor leadership pledge to make political bonds with Barak

Shmuli said the only way to raise Labor up was to make bonds out of strength and claimed to be the only candidate who could make them.

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June 30, 2019 00:30
2 minute read.
Candidates for Labor leadership pledge to make political bonds with Barak

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak gestures after delivering a statement in Tel Aviv, Israel June 26, 2019. (photo credit: CORINNA KERN/REUTERS)

The candidates for Labor Party leader will compete over the votes of 65,337 party members in Tuesday’s primary, but over the weekend, they devoted more of their attention to wooing former prime minister Ehud Barak.

MKs Amir Peretz, Itzik Shmuli and Stav Shaffir all said they would make political bonds immediately if elected.

Peretz appointed former MK Omer Bar Lev on Saturday night to head a negotiating team that Peretz said would start working on Wednesday to reach agreements with Barak’s as yet unnamed party, former MK Orly Levy-Abecassis’s Gesher, former minister Tzipi Livni, former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Yuval Diskin and former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot, who reiterated over the weekend that he is not running.

But Peretz also raised speculation that he could be the toughest possible Labor leader when he was quoted in Friday’s Israel Hayom newspaper as saying “I am not running to be Barak’s number two, but to be Labor’s number one.”
Shmuli said the only way to raise Labor up was to make bonds out of strength and claimed to be the only candidate who could make them.

“Peretz’s conditions could force Labor to run on its own, which is dangerous and could prevent the bloc from winning,” Shmuli said. “Amir, you are mistaken, and the price could be the party getting erased and eliminating the chance of the bloc winning. Instead of winning, we will get another useless internal dispute in our bloc that will leave us lost.”

Shmuli continued to put pressure on MK Stav Shaffir to quit the race. She called the pressure patronizing. Shaffir denied a report that she threatened to leave the party if not elected its leader. She revealed that Barak offered her to join his party, but she refused.

“I preferred to stay and fight for my home,” she told Channel 13. “I am not running to get a job but to rebuild Labor anew.”
Barak told Channel 12 on Friday night that he wants his party to run together with Blue and White. One dispute that could prevent that from happening is a long-running feud with MK and fellow former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, the party’s fourth candidate.

“Barak and I can sit in the same party,” Ashkenazi told Channel 12’s Meet the Press program on Saturday. “I welcome everyone who comes to contribute to the state. I don’t think he is coming at our expense. We brought 35 seats within two months. That is an incredible achievement and we were very close to coming to power. The public can judge what Barak brings and what we bring.”

Meet the Press host Rina Matzliach got in hot water on Saturday night when she said on her show that Netanyahu supporters were “a blind herd.”

The Likud responded that “the Left continues to be patronizing to the majority of the nation, the national camp and Likud voters. Our answer will come in the ballot box.”


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