Mitzna leaving Knesset for Yeroham

"I can lead in my way by going to the Negev and fixing Israeli society."

amram mitzna 298 88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
amram mitzna 298 88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Former Labor chairman Amram Mitzna, who promised to look at Israeli politics as a marathon when he was first announced his candidacy for >a href=""target="_blank">Labor leader in July 2002, announced on Sunday that he could no longer stand the pace of the Knesset. Mitzna will resign from the Knesset on Tuesday or Wednesday and head south to the troubled southern development town of Yeroham, where he has volunteered to serve as interim mayor. The town was left without a mayor after Interior Minister Ophir Paz-Pines decided to remove Baruch Almakayis from the post due to financial irregularities. "Running a marathon shouldn't mean running between the different Knesset cafeterias or from once central committee member to another," Mitzna said. "I wasn't enjoying myself or contributing in the Knesset. I am going to Yeroham because I know the place, I fell in love with the people and I want to get things done. For me, Zionism is not a bad word." Mitzna's short tenure as Labor chairman left him bitter about politics. From the moment he entered the post, the party's MKs tried to undermine him. He was elected in November 2002, turned down an offer to join Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government three months later and quit the Labor chairmanship in May 2003. "To survive in Israeli politics, you need to develop a thick skin of cynicism, an ego and a killer instinct - and I am proud to say that I never did," Mitzna said. Mitzna endorsed former prime minister Ehud Barak for the Labor leadership and was one of new Labor chairman Amir Peretz's harshest critics during the campaign. But Mitzna said he decided to leave the Knesset before Peretz was elected and he wished him well. "I am glad that he won," Mitzna said. "He is tough, but he has to be careful to watch his back." Mitzna received Peretz's blessing for the move. He said he hopes Peretz will be able to add fresh faces to the Labor faction and send home many of its leaders who he believes have been around for way too long. He said that losing a secret ballot vote in the faction to freshman Arab MK Raleb Majadleh for the chairmanship of the Knesset Interior Committee earlier this year was the straw that broke the camel's back. Three fourths of the Labor faction had told him to his face that they would vote for him. The next name on the Labor list is former Minister-without-Portfolio Salah Tarif, who might not be allowed to enter the Knesset because he has been indicted for bribery. The name after Tarif is former MK Sofa Landver. Veteran Labor MK Avraham Shochat intends to quit the Knesset at the end of the month. If Tarif is disqualified and Landver replaces Mitzna in the Knesset, Shochat would be replaced by former MK Weizmann Shiri.