Labor convention sets groundwork for primaries

Party members gather in Herzliya where Micha Harish approved as acting chairman; amendments to party’s constitution revoked.

Labor Party 521 (do not publish again) (photo credit: Flash 90)
Labor Party 521 (do not publish again)
(photo credit: Flash 90)
There were few surprises Sunday evening at the Labor Party’s convention, where the party sought to overcome the damages of the split from Defense Minister Ehud Barak while setting the groundwork for the hot contest for party chairman to be held in September.
During the evening event in Herzliya, would-be party leaders combined calls for unity with attacks against rivals, as the remnants of the fractured party approved Micha Harish as acting chairman and revoked amendments to the party’s constitution.
Labor regroups for first convention since split
Harish’s selection was set two months ago, after Barak announced his surprise split from the party that he led twice since he entered politics over a decade ago. Harish is considered a consensus figure, a place-holder to keep the party intact until elections are held for a new party chair on September 7.
In its efforts to recover from Barak – and his departure – the party also voted to restore the old party constitution in place of a newer one that Barak had pushed through in order to shore up support within the party.
MK Amir Peretz, a likely contender to replace Barak as party chairman, attacked the defense minister during the convention, telling the absent Barak that his “plot to take apart the Labor Party like a cheap watch did not succeed.” Peretz also called for unity among remaining party members, telling them to put “disagreements behind”.
Although Peretz has yet to officially declare his intentions to run for the party’s leadership, his calls for unity fell on deaf ears for those who have.
For the second time in as many days, MK Isaac Herzog slammed MK Shelly Yacimovich for advocating a onesided platform that focuses on social issues and ignores diplomatic topics. At the same time, Herzog also called upon a long list of well-known former Labor MKs to rejoin the post- Barak party ranks in a show of unity.
Yacimovich, not willing to leave Herzog’s attacks unanswered, took the podium following the former welfare and social services minister, attacking him for agreeing to remain a minister in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition.