Yacimovich calls on Lapid to block Netanyahu gov't

MKs blame Labor party leader for disappointing election results as Yacimovich takes to Facebook to reassure supporters.

Yacimovich 521 (photo credit: GIDEON MARKOWICZ / FLASH 90)
Yacimovich 521
(photo credit: GIDEON MARKOWICZ / FLASH 90)
Continuing and outgoing Labor MKs gave mixed responses on Wednesday as to whether party chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich would have to fight to retain her leadership after only raising Labor from 13 seats in the 18th Knesset to an estimated 15 in the 19th.
Yacimovich took to Facebook to reassure her supporters that Labor was still strong and there was a chance to form a Center-Left coalition.
“The final result – 15 seats – is much more than what anyone dreamed a year-and-a-half ago, but still disappointing,” she admitted. “We wanted a much larger public to go with us on the path we chose, which is not simple, but so just.”
The Labor leader wrote that she would do all she could to build a social, peace-loving coalition without Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and called for Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid not to join a Netanyahu government, because it would “shatter the middle class.”
“If Lapid will participate in an alternative coalition, I will aid him. If not, we will lead, together with our excellent faction, a fighting opposition like no other,” Yacimovich said.
MK Isaac Herzog, second on the party list and a Yacimovich ally, told Army Radio not to expect too much drama in Labor.
“People expect the knives to come out the day after the election, but there is so much to do in the whole country before we deal with our own ‘swamp,’” Herzog said.
MK Eitan Cabel, third on the list, said, however, that Yacimovich was responsible for the poor finish and, in an interview with Israel Radio, he pointed out the rule in the party’s constitution saying that, if Labor does not form the next government, it must hold a party primary in 14 months.
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“I don’t expect her to resign. I’m not walking around with a knife, and I say that clearly,” Cabel said. “The results are disappointing, and we will meet and make decisions.”
Outgoing MK Daniel Ben- Simon, 22nd on the candidates list, expressed frustration with Yacimovich’s leadership and tactics, which led Labor to losing its best chance of winning in 20 years.
“Instead of being the first party, we are a distant third. I feel sad today not personally, but for my country,” Ben- Simon said. “I thought four months ago that we would take over, that the country supported the new Labor Party. We had polls of 25 seats, and there was enthusiasm that we were beginning a new chapter.”
Ben-Simon explained that Labor was known for waving two flags – social and diplomatic – but Yacimovich decided to leave the peace process out of the election campaign, which he contended lost the party five seats from those who saw Labor as an address for peace.
“What I saw this morning sickened me. We, who were supposed to be the address of the poor, got almost no support in the development towns. They were supposed to be our new voters. We lost them, and we lost people who wanted peace,” he said.
Ben-Simon described Labor as “under [Yacimovich’s] spell,” and as blindly listening to her directives to ignore the peace process.
He referred to Labor MKs’ tough treatment of the party’s previous leader, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, saying that he would have wished to receive what Labor members gave Yacimovich.
“We gave her everything and got 15 seats in return,” Ben-Simon said.
The outgoing MK accused Yacimovich of making the campaign “all about Shelly, a one-woman show,” while ignoring the rest of the party’s candidates.
“The election was a confidence vote in one woman who wanted to be prime minister,” he said. “It was about whether people liked Shelly. Unfortunately, more people disliked her than liked her.”
Hinting at the expected primary in 14 months, Ben-Simon said he hoped Yacimovich “reaches the appropriate conclusions,” adding that he “expects Labor to find a person who can carry the authentic Labor Party message and try once again to reach the hearts of Israelis.
“It’s a sad day for people who wanted to see Labor run this country again,” Ben-Simon said.