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Labor Party 311.(Photo by: Marc Israel Sellem)
Ben-Eliezer won’t back any Labor candidate
By Gil Stern Stern HOFFMAN
04/28/2011
Former Labor chairman, Amram Mitzna who will enter the race next week was banking on receiving Ben-Eliezer’s endorsement.
The Labor Party’s most popular politician, MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, does not intend to endorse any of the six candidates in September’s 12 Labor leadership primary, sources close to Ben-Eliezer said on Wednesday.

Ben-Eliezer’s prospective endorsement was seen as the key to victory in the crowded race because of the respect he commands among the party’s rank and file – and the affection the elder statesman engendered during the six weeks he was hospitalized.

Former Labor chairman, Amram Mitzna – who confirmed on Wednesday that he intends to enter the race next week – was banking on receiving Ben-Eliezer’s endorsement after he said in December that only Mitzna could save the party.

Mitzna expressed confidence that Ben-Eliezer would endorse him later in the race; however, sources close to Ben-Eliezer said he would likely release a statement soon declaring neutrality and simply wish all the candidates well.

Ben-Eliezer’s longtime former spokeswoman, Tami Shenkman, is serving as a campaign strategist for millionaire venture capitalist Erel Margalit, who joined the race on Wednesday at an event in Jerusalem honoring volunteers at a non-profit organization he started.

Margalit attacked Mitzna at a press conference following the event, noting that Mitzna had eulogized Labor a few months ago, and now intends to run for its leadership.

Margalit also did not spare criticism for the three MKs running in the race: Isaac Herzog, Shelly Yacimovich and Amir Peretz.

He said that Peretz, whom he supported in the 2005 race, and Yacimovich, had economic focuses that were too narrow for the party.

“People want to see new faces,” Margalit said. “Only with a revolution can we bring change. Who do you want to lead the party? The people who tried and didn’t succeed? The people who led the party to eight seats? It’s time to click refresh on Labor’s leadership.”

Margalit hinted that if he lost the race, he would remain in politics and run for Knesset with Labor in the next election. He added that he would be willing to work with Labor’s current leadership.

“I have done a lot in the business and socioeconomic spheres,” Margalit said. “I am getting to my next phase in life, which is the leadership phase.”
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