Labor leader Merav Michaeli wants Ron Huldai to run under her

New Labor leader removing party from government

Merav Michaeli sitting on the party leader's chair at her office in Tel Aviv (photo credit: MICHAELI'S OFFICE)
Merav Michaeli sitting on the party leader's chair at her office in Tel Aviv
(photo credit: MICHAELI'S OFFICE)
Emboldened by her landslide victory in Sunday’s Labor leadership primary, in which she won 77% of the vote, new Labor leader Merav Michaeli called on Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai to have his Israelis Party run under her leadership in the March 23 election.
Huldai had been expecting Michaeli to merge Labor into his list, with no more than one realistic slot going to Labor. But after a poll indicated that both Labor and Huldai’s party would win four seats, sources close to Michaeli said there was no reason why he should go first on the list.
If Michaeli is placed first on the list, it could be the only slate out of more than 30 running in the election that is led by a woman.
Michaeli spoke to Huldai on the phone on Monday. He congratulated her, and they agreed to talk in upcoming days. She said she would listen to overtures from party heads who want to run together with Labor, but she will not hurry to accept them.
Michaeli does not want to begin negotiations on mergers until after Labor holds its primary for its Knesset list on Sunday. Michaeli has called upon new candidates from other parties to join Labor and run.
Former Blue and White MK Ram Shefa became the first to join Labor and announce that he is running. Shefa was a dove in Blue and White and was very critical of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government.
Current Labor ministers Amir Peretz and Itzik Shmuli have already announced they do not intend to run in the primary. Peretz will seek the presidency from outside the Knesset.
Shmuli has been negotiating with Blue and White leader Benny Gantz about running with the party.
Michaeli intends to convene a Labor convention in the coming days to approve leaving the governing coalition, which she vigorously opposed entering. Now that she has replaced Peretz, she said her first step would be overturning his decision to join the government.
If Shmuli joins Blue and White, he could remain a minister in that capacity. Gantz has vacancies in the cabinet because Blue and White ministers have quit.
My first decision as Labor leader is that the party will be leaving the corrupt Netanyahu-Gantz government, the worst in the country’s history,” she said. “I told Amir Peretz and Itzik Shmuli they must quit. Labor is starting anew!”