Herzog is big winner in Labor primary

Most ministers make top 10 - except for Majadle, who may leave party.

ehud barak happy 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
ehud barak happy 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog received the most votes in Thursday's Labor Party primary, putting him at No. 2 on the party's Knesset candidates list after chairman Ehud Barak. Rounding out the top 10 after Herzog, are Ophir Paz-Pines, Avishay Braverman, Shelly Yacimovich, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna'i, Eitan Cabel, National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Education Minister Yuli Tamir and Amir Peretz. As party secretary-general, Cabel's seventh position was reserved, to allow him to deal with the primary logistics. The results of the primary, which had been delayed from last Tuesday, when it was canceled due to computer glitches, were announced Friday morning at the Tel Aviv Exhibition Grounds after a long night of counting the votes, which had been submitted manually this time. While it was feared that the revote would discourage the party's 59,000+ members from coming again to cast their ballots, turnout was a surprisingly high 54 percent. "We have the best team and we will prove the voters that this list is the best one for closing the gaps in Israeli society," Barak said on Friday. "The patient ones will wait a week or two and see the other parties' teams, and I promise you that despite the numerous opportunists who have recently joined Likud and Kadima, we have the best team to offer," he said. He added that the Labor Party and its members were the heirs of prime ministers David Ben-Gurion, Levi Eshkol and Yitzhak Rabin. "I was asked whether we would agree to sit in the opposition. Of course we would agree. If this is what the public wants, we will lead the opposition with decisiveness and determination," Barak added. Herzog said on Friday morning that there were serious attempts to erase the party from the national agenda. "We won't let this happen. Labor is a party with an agenda and a future, an excellent team and a serious leader," Herzog said. Yacimovich, a former journalist who has been widely praised for her legislative efforts during her first term as MK, said she had hoped to be elected among the top three, "but the final result meet my expectations, too." "We managed to put together a good and balanced list and now we must be prepared mentally to sit in the opposition and not to surrender to Labor's familiar instinct to sit in the coalition no matter what. "This is the only way Labor can revive itself and this is the only way for us to be again a ruling party," Yacimovich said. Former Haaretz journalist Daniel Ben-Simon won the 11th slot. Another newcomer who did well was Dr. Einat Wilf, a former political adviser to President Shimon Peres and a member of the steering committee of the President's Conference. She won the 14th slot, because the 12th slot was reserved for a representative of the moshavim (and was taken by Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon, from Moshav Even Menahem, who ran unopposed) while the 13th slot, reserved for a kibbutz representative, was won by MK Orit Noked, from Kibbutz Shefayim. However, recent unflattering polls predicting that Labor will garner fewer than 10 seats in February's general election make it far from certain that the newcomers will get into the next Knesset. Following them on the list is Science, Culture, and Sport Minister Ghaleb Majadle (15th slot, reserved for the Arab sector), MK Shachiv Shnaan (16th slot, reserved for the Druse sector), MK Yoram Marciano (17th slot, reserved for the "neighborhoods" representative), MK Leon Litinetsky (18th slot, reserved for an immigrant), Moshe Samya, the chairman of the Histadrut Labor Federation's Netanya district (in 19th slot, reserved for representative of the Sharon and Samaria), and Yossi Sulimany (20th slot, reserved for representative of the Negev). Majadle, whose chances of entering the next Knesset are iffy at best, has threatened in the past weeks to leave the party. He said after the results were published that he would convene the Council of the Arab District, a body consisting mainly of Arab local council heads, to decide on his future in Labor. Though Ben-Eliezer did not attend Friday's celebration in Tel Aviv, on Saturday morning he spoke at a gathering in Ramat Gan, where he said that the Labor Party had made two mistakes: staying in the government after the Winograd Committee's final report and demanding that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert step down. "As soon as he announced that he would resign we should have wished him luck in clearing his name," Ben-Eliezer said. "You don't shoot a man who's already been shot." He added that Labor is better off sitting in the opposition. "We will agree to sit in the government only with a party that agrees to discuss security and social issues, and the Likud isn't such a party. Besides, a right-wing government won't last for more than two years," he said. Cabel on Friday morning expressed satisfaction with the voting process and said the primary heralded good things for the party. "We had 54% turnout and not one problem," Cabel said. "This is a fresh start, which I believe will confound all the polls. We will go united to February's general elections and surprise everyone."