Herzog challenges Yacimovich to Labor leadership debate

Labor challenger disputes polls cited by incumbent showing her ahead by 20% less than three weeks ahead of primary.

Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich 370 (photo credit: Artiom Degel)
Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich 370
(photo credit: Artiom Degel)
MK Isaac Herzog on Saturday challenged his rival in the November 21 Labor primary race, incumbent party head Shelly Yacimovich, to a debate.
“I challenge Yacimovich to a debate about democracy, ideology and the party’s path,” Herzog said at a cultural event in Ramat Gan.
The party leader’s spokesman declined to respond to the proposal.
Herzog accused Yacimovich of refusing to set up polling places at 80 locations in development towns, kibbutzim, moshavim and Arab villages because she is afraid their residents will support him.
“We are fighting for the right to vote,” he said. “I wonder, if [Yacimovich] is so proud of being democratic, what is she afraid of?” The challenger for party leadership said he and his staff would appeal to the party’s Election Committee on Sunday “to fight for the right of each and every member to vote.”
Also on Saturday, Yacimovich said she was proud there would be a primary because it showed that Labor was a democracy and not a dictatorship like other parties.
A cultural event in Shoham, she said her polls showed she was 20 percentage points ahead of Herzog. She also noted that most of the party’s MKs – nine out of 15 – were supporting her.
“This can’t be taken for granted in the Labor Party, which is rejecting its DNA and picking the same leader twice in a row,” Yacimovich said.
She was referring to the tendency of Labor members to change the party leadership relatively often.
Herzog’s campaign, however, said Yacimovich’s poll had been conducted several months ago, and that a poll undertaken two weeks ago showed the two tied at 35 percent, with the rest undecided.
Yacimovich accused Herzog and his supporters of mudslinging, which she said harmed the party, and committed to maintaining a clean campaign.
“The public is sick of internal fighting and realizes that our fight should not be inward but outward,” she said.
The opposition leader also discussed the possibility that she would join the government coalition, repeating her commitment to be a “safety net” for peace talks. However, she clarified that she would join the government only if Bayit Yehudi were to leave over progress in negotiations with the Palestinians.