Shelly Yachimovich - Hagai Frid
Shelly Yachimovich Photo by Hagai Frid
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Likud Knesset Member Carmel Shama-Hacohen yesterday declared his support for MK Shelly Yachimovich's candidacy for the Labor Party's leadership. He did so amid accusations by Yachimovich's rival, MK Amir Peretz, that Likud and the prime minister's associates were covertly advancing her candidacy.

Yachimovich beat Peretz in Labor's primary elections on Monday. Yesterday, he said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's aides and certain Likud ministers were helping her to win her party's top slot.

Shama-Hacohen announced in a radio interview yesterday that he contributed NIS 180 to Yachimovich's campaign and wrote in his Facebook page, "Yachimovich is without a doubt the most effective antidote to Kadima's bluff."

A Haaretz public opinion poll published yesterday found that a Labor party headed by Yachimovich is expected to take six Knesset seats away from Kadima, in contrast to a party lead by Peretz, which would gain only four Knesset seats at Kadima's expense.

MK Peretz, who plans to run against Yachimovich in the second round of primaries next Wednesday, launched yesterday a campaign aimed at tarnishing Yachimovich and reducing her electoral chances.

He accused Yachimovich of cooperating with Netanyahu and said that if she wins the primaries, Labor would join Netanyahu's cabinet after the Knesset elections.

Netanyahu prefers Yachimovich as Labor leader, according to Peretz, because a Labor party led by Yachimovich would presumably make gains in the upcoming elections at the expense of Kadima, Likud's arch rival. For this reason, Netanyahu's associates and some Likud ministers were covertly advancing Yachimovich's candidacy, he said.

"Yachimovich is not responsible for MKs' Facebook statuses," her campaign staff said in a statement yesterday. "Anyone following her activity over the years knows that no public figure has been more effective and firm in her stance against Likud or Netanyahu...She was the only MK to refuse a minister's position in Netanyahu's cabinet."

The statement continued: "Led by Yachimovich, Labor will become the strongest, most belligerent opposition, with a consistent ideological platform. Kadima, whose social and economic positions are no different from Likud's, cannot fill this role. Labor will become the second largest party in Israel, taking votes from right- and left-wing parties, including Kadima and Likud."