Yacimovich vows to stay in politics despite loss to Herzog

MK Merav Michaeli said to be new Labor leader's pick for faction chairperson.

Yacimovich vs. Herzog Labor race 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Yacimovich vs. Herzog Labor race 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich announced at a Knesset press conference on Monday that she intends to remain in politics, despite losing the leadership of her party to MK Isaac Herzog by 17 percent in Thursday’s primary.
Yacimovich decided not to follow in the footsteps of current Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who temporarily quit politics when she lost the Kadima leadership race. She also reiterated her intention to remain in Labor and not join another party like former Labor leaders Amir Peretz and Amram Mitzna.
“In politics there are wins and losses,” she said. “Losses will not break me. I’m in politics to stay. I intend to grow old in politics in order to advance the ideas of the constituents I represent.”
Yacimovich pledged to support Herzog and prevent another primary from being held ahead of the next general election, which she said would be unhealthy for the party. But she warned Herzog not to take Labor into Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government unless there is a dramatic development in the diplomatic negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.
“If Labor has the will to live and does not want to lose new supporters, its leaders must know that sharpening the party’s identity can be done only in the opposition,” she said. “The party definitely should not crawl in now, because joining the coalition now would kill the diplomatic process.”
Asked why she announced ahead of the race that she had a 22% lead based on her canvassing of party members, she said the number came from a transparent database and would have come out anyway.
She said she wanted the news to come out within the context of her message to her supporters that they must come to vote.
Yacimovich promised to do some “soul-searching” to understand how she fell from such a lead to such a loss. She promised that she would not form a political camp within the Labor faction.
The faction is expected to vote in two weeks on a new faction chairman to replace Herzog. MK Merav Michaeli, who supported Herzog in the race, is said to be favored by the new party leader.
But MK Miki Rosenthal, who supported Yacimovich, also intends to seek the post. If he could obtain the support of all nine MKs who backed Livni, he could beat Michaeli, which would be an embarrassment for Herzog.
Meanwhile, MK Eitan Cabel will serve as temporary chairman of the faction. In that capacity, he wrote Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein Monday, formally requesting that the post of opposition leader be transferred from Yacimovich to Herzog, which occurred later Monday.
Opposition leaders get several perks, including regular meetings with the prime minister, the right to speak after the prime minister at key Knesset meetings, bodyguards, an extra NIS 5,000 a month salary, a larger staff and a larger office.
Following the tradition of the British House of Commons, the office of the opposition leader is the farthest from the Knesset plenum.
At a Labor faction meeting Monday, Herzog thanked Yacimovich for her work leading the party for more than two years and even kissed her.
“From today we’re a united faction with one goal of coming back to power,” said Herzog.