Labor regroups for first convention since split

The party, suffering both financially and politically, will address issues related to attempts at recovery after Barak left the party reeling.

Labor 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Labor 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Two months after Defense Minister Ehud Barak left the Labor Party reeling – and celebrating – his surprise departure, the party will hold its first postsplit convention Sunday to try to jumpstart Labor’s recovery.
Labor is currently suffering both financially and politically, saddled with debt and risking electoral relegation to the position of a small, sectorial party holding fewer mandates than the Arab parties put together.
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Cynics quipped that after Barak left the party to form Independence, he left behind him not one but five or six Knesset factions among the eight remaining Labor MKs. Some, in fact, predicted that the eight MKs would officially split into two or three rival factions, each centered around a would-be contender for the leadership of the center-left.
Two months later, with its eight Knesset seats still intact, the troubled party will hold a convention on Sunday evening in Herzliya in order to address a series of pressing issues related to the party’s attempts at recovery.
Delegates are expected to vote to repeal the so-called “Barak Constitution”, a re-working of party bylaws that was pushed through by the former party chairman in order to shore up his leadership.
In addition, delegates are expected to officially approve Micha Harish as temporary party chairman, while also approving plans to prepare for the election of a new chairperson.
The party primaries are slated for September 7th, and one of the technical issues that will be addressed during Sunday’s convention is the recruitment and registration of party members, a hot contest in advance of a leadership race.
MK Isaac Herzog, one of two Labor MKs who has already announced their candidacy to lead the party, pushed his qualifications for the job during a Saturday event in Beersheba.
“My style is more similar to those of [US President Barack] Obama, [former British prime minister Tony] Blair, and [British Prime Minister David] Cameron than other peoples’ styles,” said the former Welfare Minister.
“In the last week it was proven that the Labor Party must address two issues that are at the heart of the Israeli reality – national and social security.
Focusing on one niche alone will harm Labor,” he added in a slam directed at leadership rival MK Shelly Yacimovich. Yacimovich is an outspoken and active advocate on social issues, but has consistently remained close-lipped on foreign policy and security issues.
One heavy-hitter in Labor who will be conspicuously absent at Sunday’s convention is frequent king-maker MK Binyamin Ben- Eliezer. Ben-Eliezer, once considered a possible contender to lead the party, is still hospitalized for a severe respiratory infection.
Over the weekend, his condition deteriorated to the point at which he was sedated and placed on a respirator for the second time this month, but his condition improved again late Saturday, and he regained consciousness.