Yacimovich sworn in as opposition leader

Labor is the only alternative to Likud, party leader says; Ben-Eliezer: Mofaz “sold his soul to the devil."

Opposition leader Yacimmovich speaks in Knesset_370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Opposition leader Yacimmovich speaks in Knesset_370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
MK Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) was sworn in as opposition leader on Wednesday, and gave her first speech in that capacity to the Knesset plenum.
Labor called a press conference hours before Yacimovich took her new position to say that they will lead a “true” opposition, as opposed to Kadima’s “farce of an opposition.”
“No party is more suited than Labor to head the opposition,” Yacimovich said. “Kadima was not an alternative for one minute.”
Yacimovich pointed out that the opposition is one of the smallest in Israel’s history, with a wide, complex range of opinions, but she will lead them all.
Labor plans to focus on the 2013 state budget, which Yacimovich expects to be “monstrous” and deepen social gaps in Israel.
“The social atmosphere suddenly passed, and all the government is talking about are the ‘Tal Law’ and Iran,” Yacimovich said. “It is easy, because they will come to a compromise in the end. It is easy to say Tal Law three times a day, and forget about the budget.”
The Labor leader cited an increasing burden on the middle class, adding that the public is with her.
“Even though the opposition is small in this building, outside it is massive,” Labor faction leader Isaac Herzog said.
Later, in her first speech to the plenum, Yacimovich mostly distanced herself from politics, during a Victory Day ceremony, in which Soviet Army veterans of World War II filled the plenum’s mezzanine.
Yacimovich began with a personal story, of her mother being saved by Russian soldiers in Warsaw at the end of the war, and told the veterans she owes them a “personal debt.”
One of the messages of WWII is “not to be like lambs to the slaughter,” she said.
“However, the message of strength and defense must be balanced with justice and equality,” Yacimovich stated. “The thing we’re defending must have meaning.”
For example, she said, Israel must fight racism, and ensure peace, justice and fair distribution of health with strong mutual responsibility.
“You deserve to live with respect, a good pension, a roof over your heads and the ability to buy gifts for your grandchildren,” Yacimovich told the veterans.
Earlier in the plenum, opposition MKs slammed Kadima and Likud for their coalition agreement.
MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor) said he is not surprised the public lost its faith in politicians, because today the political system is “garbage.”
“You sold your soul to the devil,” Ben-Eliezer exclaimed.
Later, Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) told the plenum he was appalled that a veteran MK would imply that the prime minister is the devil.
“When your party was in the government, it seemed like you and the prime minister were friendly,” Erdan said.
Soon after, Ben-Eliezer asked for his comments to be removed from the Knesset protocol, and clarified that the political move was “satanic,” and he was not calling Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu the devil.
Meretz MKs also slammed Kadima and Likud, with MK Nitzan Horowitz reading the definition of “disgust,” and quoting from soonto- be Vice Premier Shaul Mofaz’s infamous “Netanyahu is a liar” speech.
“We are not going to be polite. This is small, disgusting, nauseating politics, born out of fear, out of panic,” Meretz leader Zehava Gal- On said. “I am embarrassed for Kadima. This is not clean politics.”
Meanwhile, coalition MKs fought back, with MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) calling Labor hypocritical, as they were in the coalition with Likud before Defense Minister Ehud Barak broke off from the party.
“You come to us with complaints? Are you not embarrassed? Have some modesty,” he exclaimed. “You didn’t do anything while you were in the coalition.
You did not change anything or pass any laws. You are a bunch of wet rags – do not think the public will forget it.”
“What would be different if we had elections in September,” MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) asked.
“Would Mofaz be more credible? Anyway, he said he would join Netanyahu’s government after elections, so why is this worse?” Hotovely attacked Kadima, saying they did not act like an opposition party before the national unity agreement.