Herzog announces candidacy for Labor Party leader

Social Affairs Minister says he will "fight for the party and its renewal;" elections not planned until late 2012.

Herzog 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Herzog 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog said Thursday he intends to challenge Defense Minister Ehud Barak for the leadership of the Labor Party at a meeting of Labor’s executive committee at Tel Aviv’s Eretz Yisrael Museum.
The next Labor primary is currently set for October 2012, a year ahead of the set date for the next general election. But Herzog and Minorities Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman, who also intends to run, want to advance the race.
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In his speech to party activists, Herzog said Labor had lost its way, was enduring a difficult crisis, and was in clinical depression.
But he said he believed it could be rehabilitated.
“People ask me why we still need the party and whether it can rise again,” Herzog said. “They tell me the party is broken and finished.
“But I intend to fight to save the party and renew it. This is the home I want to lead. I intend to run for the leadership of the party in an open, democratic, and fair process.”
Following the meeting, Herzog assembled Labor branch heads and told them that he had started a petition drive to convene the party’s central committee to begin the process of advancing the primary.
Herzog stole the show from Jerusalem city councilman Hilik Bar, who was elected the party’s new secretary-general at Thursday’s event. Bar, 35, ran unopposed and was chosen unanimously.
Barak said he had high hopes Bar could improve the shape of the party.
Meanwhile, Likud sources confirmed a report that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had not given up hope of splitting Kadima and drafting seven of its 28 MKs into the coalition in the event that Labor, with its 13 lawmakers, chose to leave.
The sources said Netanyahu had made an effort to maintain good relations with the MKs he hopes to draft to the Likud and that he would prefer to bring in Kadima MKs into the coalition rather than the far-right National Union party.