Livni wants open primaries to choose challenger to PM

Herzog calls his Labor critics anarchists.

By
May 23, 2016 08:33
2 minute read.
Zionist Union's Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni

Zionist Union's Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni. (photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)

 
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All the parties on the Center and Left should join together and hold a massive open primary to decide the next candidate to run against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the next general election, Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni said over the weekend.

Livni, whose Hatnua party joined with Labor ahead of last year’s election to form the Zionist Union, wants Yesh Atid MKs and other politicians to join a new massive bloc that would run together and have its candidates chosen by the people, rather than party institutions.

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She made the suggestion following increased criticism of Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog, who tried unsuccessfully to enter Netanyahu’s government. Herzog convened the Zionist Union faction in Tel Aviv Sunday, but a third of the faction did not attend.

MKs Shelly Yacimovich, Erel Margalit, Stav Shaffir, Miki Rosenthal and Yossi Yonah said they were boycotting the meeting because they were offended by Herzog’s recent criticism of “extreme Leftists” in the party who were damaging it from within.

Herzog did not withhold criticism from the boycotters, calling them “anarchists who want to destroy the party.

In the meeting, MKs took turns bashing Herzog for negotiating with Netanyahu behind their backs and for mishandling the negotiations that culminated with Yisrael Beytenu entering the government instead of the Zionist Union.

“We felt betrayed and stupid,” faction head Merav Michaeli said.



MK Amir Peretz asked Herzog to hold a party convention immediately to set a date for leadership primaries and to firmly decide not to enter the government.

“You lost all your credibility,” Peretz told him. “We must use an ax to end any hope Netanyahu has of us joining the government.”

MK Yoel Hasson, meanwhile, said the atmosphere in Labor feels like it did in Kadima before the party imploded.

In Tel Aviv, some 300 people gathered at the Bascula night club for a rally opposing the new coalition deal, specifically, and Netanyahu’s leadership more broadly.

The room was replete with signs chiding Herzog for contemplating unity with Netanyahu (“The opposition is back”) and demanding Netanyahu’s ouster (“We’re replacing Bibi, dammit!”).

“Today, here, we say no. No to the reign of gangs. No to the path of the extreme Right. No to racism, to the crazy people dripping with venom who have infiltrated this government. No to the government of the hilltop youth,” said Margalit, who headlined the event. “No to a defense minister who wakes up in the morning and declares that we should blow up Aswan Dam in Egypt,” he added, calling Liberman a “bully.”

Margalit, also hinted that it was time for a change in the Labor Party’s leadership: “We are creating the opposition anew,” he declared.

In his speech, Margalit referenced slain prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and his peacemaking efforts, derided ministers Naftali Bennett and Miri Regev and threw support to former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon for calling out extremism in his resignation.

Yet, not everyone in the crowd was convinced he would be able to bring about change.

“It’s hard to believe this will change anything, but I also want Bibi out of power,” said Eti, a rally participant. “It’ll be hard.

If it wasn’t, Netanyahu wouldn’t have been elected again. There are apparently more right-wingers in this country.”

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