Former prime ministerial advisers lead aspiring Labor newcomers

Barak, Rabin, Peres aides fill out list of 37 candidates.

Labor Party chairman Isaac Herzog (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Labor Party chairman Isaac Herzog
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Thirty-seven candidates entered the race for Labor’s Knesset list by Thursday’s deadline, including advisers to former prime ministers from Labor, Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak.
The candidates will face off in the January 13 Labor primary in which 48,806 party members will be eligible to vote in primaries taking place nationwide. The race will be tough because several slots on the Labor list have been reserved for candidates from Hatnua and for a security figure expected to be either Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz or former OC Military Intelligence Amos Yadlin.
“The candidates who will run in the race represent the varied mosaic that is Israeli society,” Labor leader Isaac Herzog said. “I am sure that at the end of the process, we will have a team that can lead us to the political upheaval that can take Israel to a new direction.”
Barak’s former bureau chief, Eldad Yaniv, ran with the small Eretz Hadasha party in the last election. In recent years, he has been a whistle-blower who has exposed political corruption and the ties between politicians and tycoons.
He will be joined in the race by former Rabin adviser Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin and former Peres aide Bahira Barguda.
All the current Labor MKs will be running except for Avishay Braverman, who announced his retirement this week. Former MK Shakib Shanan, who is Druse, and Arab sports broadcaster Zoher Bahalul will seek slots reserved for minorities.
Former Kadima MK Robert Tiviaev will be running, as will Lior Carmel, a former Kadima candidate who was secretary-general of the Tzofim youth group.
The top slots on the list behind Herzog and Hatnua head Tzipi Livni are expected to go to MKs Shelly Yacimovich, Eitan Cabel, Erel Margalit, and Merav Michaeli. Michaeli told Israel Radio on Thursday that she saw herself competing with all her current colleagues and not fighting Yacimovich to be Labor’s top woman.
“It’s not a mud wrestling match between the women candidates,” she said.
One of Hatnua’s slots on the Labor list will be reserved for economist Manuel Trajtenberg. Polls are being taken and focus groups convened to determine Trajtenberg’s support before deciding how and where to place him on the list.
Very senior labor sources firmly denied a report that he will be given the seventh slot on the joint list, which is reserved for the Labor secretary-general, Hilik Bar, and that Bar would receive the 16th slot on the list. The sources said Bar, who stood out among freshmen MKs, would remain in the 7th slot.
The only religiously observant candidate on the list is the head of the Israeli Reform Movement, Rabbi Gilad Kariv. The only immigrant from an English-speaking country on the list is New York-born Eytan Schwartz, the foreign affairs adviser to Tel Aviv mayor Ron Hulda’i and the winner of the reality show The Ambassador.