Tel Aviv mayor's attacks seen as kickoff to national run

Herzog: Huldai doesn't understand leadership

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai (photo credit: FACEBOOK)
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai
(photo credit: FACEBOOK)
Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai said Tuesday that he had not yet decided whether to seek the chairmanship of the Labor Party and the premiership, but party officials said his recent attacks on Labor leader Isaac Herzog and Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat indicated otherwise.
Huldai blasted Herzog in a Channel 2 interview Tuesday night, saying that under his leadership, Labor is going down in the polls, is not acting as a fighting opposition, and is "crawling" toward Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government.
"As a citizen and Labor member, I am worried about the decisions being made in the party," Huldai said. "I didn't say I am running and I didn't say I am not not running. I am considering running for leader of the Labor Party."
Huldai sent a letter to Labor activists Monday in which he said the party should run under the name Labor rather than Zionist Union. He called for setting dates for electing the party's leader, secretary-general, central committee, and executive committee.
In the letter, Huldai addressed national issues, calling for Israel to urgently initiate a diplomatic process that would result in separating from the Palestinians as soon as possible, in order to maintain Israel as a democracy. The letter prompted Herzog to respond at a pre-Rosh Hashana toast in Tel Aviv Tuesday night.
“We were the Labor Party and we remained the Labor Party," Herzog said. “Whoever didn’t understand that we needed to expand and reach agreements with other audiences that didn’t vote for us doesn’t understand leadership.”
Huldai has been spearheading a drive by a group of mayors of wealthy cities to oppose a bill by MK Yossi Yona (Zionist Union) that would grant differential funding of municipalities, meaning that the national government would contribute less to wealthier municipalities and more to poorer ones.
The Tel Aviv Mayor accused Labor MKs of promoting the plan without talking to local government. In his speech at the Tel Aviv toast, Herzog defended Yona and blasted Huldai.
“I’m proud of the initiative of our MKs who want to help weaker cities that need more funding,” Herzog said.
Huldai's main opponent on the bill has been Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat, a strong proponent of the bill, which would help the capital, along with poorer cities.  The two mayors clashed on Army Radio over the bill Tuesday.
"If Huldai continues to insist on preventing the most just way of distributing funds, he has no place on the national level," Barkat said. "There are children in  the periphery whose only fault is that they were not born in the State of Tel Aviv. Residents of Tel Aviv are a lot more socioeconomically minded than their mayor."
Huldai responded by bashing Barkat for not doing more to improve the socieconomic conditions of Jerusalem Arabs. He said Barkat should be ashamed of himself, rather than preaching to others.
Histadrut Labor Union chairman Avi Nissenkorn came out against Huldai's position at the Labor Party toast.
“The Tel Aviv municipality is fair in its worker-employer relations, but real social democracy is connecting the periphery and the center," he said. "There is no shame in differentiating the way resources are distributed so that the periphery gets more. A child from Ofakim needs to get more than a child in Tel Aviv.”