Zionist Union MKs Isaac Herzog (L) and Hilik Bar (C) shake hands with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as they attend a meeting in Ramallah.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Adding new leadership could be necessary for the Labor Party to return to power, Labor’s secretary-general, MK Hilik Bar, wrote party members Sunday.
Bar made the controversial statement in a letter he posted on Facebook in which he endorsed current Labor chairman Isaac Herzog’s decision to hold the next leadership race in July 2017.
In the letter, he said he backed the decision to give the party “time to breathe” ahead of the next race, because he has made a point of backing decisions made by party leaders, and that he saw it as a first step toward eliminating a “destructive” clause in Labor’s bylaws that requires a leadership race 14 months after losing a general election.
However, he said the most important reason to wait a year to hold the election was “to leave a door open to new forces and candidates who could run and take part in the party’s leadership.” He did not name names, but former IDF chiefs of staff Gabi Ashkenazi and Benny Gantz and Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai could decide to enter the fray.
“I know it will be hard for some to hear this, but unfortunately it could be critical to strengthening us and persuading the public ahead of the next election against Netanyahu and the Likud, as well as other parties with whom we will be struggling for votes,” Bar wrote.
“Everybody knows it. The good of the party and its strength in the next election are more important than anything else. We are talking about our country, damn it, its future, our children, and our ability to provide an alternative and send this failed government home.”
When asked by Army Radio if he was openly calling for Herzog to be replaced, Bar noted that Herzog himself has said repeatedly that the party needed new blood. He said there was an impression in the public that the party was lax on security issues and a security figure could repair that image.
“This is not an expression of no-confidence in any of the candidates,” Bar said. “It is what everyone says and thinks in every meeting we have. Herzog understands. There is no drama.”
Herzog and his associates did not respond immediately to Bar’s letter. But Herzog did respond to criticism by his rival, MK Shelly Yacimovich of his decision to hold the race in a year. She called the decision illegal, anti-democratic, and harmful to the party.
“Yacimovich has reached a new low in divisiveness,” Herzog said. “After undermining every party chairman, she cannot scold about lack of democracy. I will present my leadership and my ability to reach a consensus against the combativeness and violence of Yacimovich.”
Herzog said that last week she threatened that if her demands about the timing of the race were not accepted she would cause “anarchy” in the party.
“My path brought the party 24 mandates,” Herzog said.
“I will not allow threats and anarchy to take over our home.”