Labor infighting continues over joining coalition

Herzog, Cable accuse each other of pressuring Yacimovich to join gov't; senior MKs remain coy about possible leadership race.

fmr minister of Welfare and Social Affairs Isaac Herzog 390 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
fmr minister of Welfare and Social Affairs Isaac Herzog 390
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Senior Labor MKs fought over whether to join the coalition or not on Sunday, accusing each other of overthrowing party leader Shelly Yacimovich, after publicly denying that the knives were out on Thursday.
Sources close to MK Isaac Herzog and MK Eitan Cabel, Nos. 2 and 3 on Labor’s list, accused each other of pressuring Yacimovich to join Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition, while both sides said MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer is part of the effort.
Late in Labor’s campaign, Yacimovich announced that she would not join Netanyahu’s coalition because his ideology and policies are incompatible with Labor.
Cabel said Sunday that he supports Yacimovich’s policy of not entering the government, unless a situation that he described as “unlikely” takes place, in which Netanyahu decides to forms a secular government.
“With [Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali] Bennett and the haredim, we don’t have a reason to be there,” he stated.
A spokesman for Herzog said the MK is not trying to pressure Yacimovich, nor is he speaking to the press about the coalition-opposition debate, because Herzog is aware of the criticism he and others in the party received after serving as ministers in the previous government, before Labor moved to the opposition.
Some of Labor’s new MKs worked on Sunday to make sure Yacimovich would keep her promise to stay out of the government.
“Shelly is against joining the coalition, but people are pressuring her,” incoming lawmaker Michal Biran explained. “We’re putting opposite pressure.”
According to Biran, most of the party’s MKs agree with Yacimovich and oppose joining the coalition, but a few are trying to influence her otherwise.
Biran organized a demonstration of young Labor activists that favor staying in the opposition, which is set to take place before the party’s faction meeting on Monday morning.
Meanwhile, Herzog, Cabel and others are staying coy about the possibility of running against Yacimovich in a Labor leadership race that could take place in 14 months, according to the party’s bylaws.
Cabel was surprised on Sunday morning to see a Yediot Aharonot article reporting he was already planning a coup d’etat.
The Labor MK denied the report, adding that he does not know who is behind it.
A source close to Herzog said that, while it is early to think about a primary, it would be “natural” for him to run for Labor’s leadership and that many in the party have asked him about the possibility.
Biran was adamant that Labor is not dealing with a possible primary and supports Yacimovich.
“We stand by Shelly, and want to help her finish the process of rehabilitating the party,” she said.