Ben-Eliezer tries to woo Paz-Pines back to Labor

75-year-old MK sees Paz-Pines as one of Israel's top young leaders; Yacimovich calls Mitzna ‘Barak with a beard.’

ophir pines 224 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
ophir pines 224
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The Labor Party’s elder statesman, MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, met with former MK Ophir Paz-Pines on Friday in an effort to persuade him to return to politics with Labor.
Paz-Pines came to Ben- Eliezer’s Rishon Lezion home to visit the 75-year-old MK, who is recovering from pneumonia that nearly killed him. When he left the hospital last month, he vowed to do whatever possible to return Labor to its former stature.

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The return of Paz-Pines to Labor is important for Ben- Eliezer, who sees him as one of Israel’s top young leaders.
Paz-Pines, who quit the Knesset and at least temporarily left politics in January 2010, is also likely to be wooed by new parties forming on the Left.
Paz-Pines has not ruled out returning to Labor and has not decided yet whether to endorse one of the six candidates running in the Sept. 12 Labor leadership race.
Over the last few months, multiple candidates have met with Paz-Pines and sought his advice, including former party chairman Amram Mitzna, MK Isaac Herzog, venture capitalist Erel Margalit and Union of Local Authorities in Israel head Shlomo Buhbut.
Another candidate, MK Shelly Yacimovich, attacked Mitzna on Friday, calling him “Barak with a beard.”
When Ben-Eliezer ran against Mitzna for the Labor leadership in 2002, he infamously called Mitzna “Yossi Beilin with a beard,” in an effort to paint him as a leftist.
A Ha’aretz columnist used the epithet “Barak with a beard” to describe Mitzna on Friday in the newspaper’s Hebrew edition after Mitzna suggested reserving every other slot on Labor’s next Knesset list for new candidates that he would select.
Yacimovich took the epithet, which was left out of the newspaper’s English edition, and made it a headline on her website. She condemned Mitzna and warned that he would mistreat Labor like it’s last chairman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

“We must fight against such anti-democratic ideas before they gain support,” Yacimovich wrote her supporters on the site. “You know that I make a point of running this primary on ideology without criticizing other candidates, but this crossed a red line.
“A party chairman can’t appoint who he wants – even theoretically. Party members should have the democratic right to select their leader and Knesset candidates.
There is no bypass road to democracy.”
A spokesman for Mitzna responded that “we don’t intend to criticize other candidates.”
But in a parlor meeting in Kfar Saba, Mitzna said, “I intend to make Labor a party with a clear identity and not a niche party,” which was seen as a criticism of Yacimovich’s focus on socioeconomic issues.