Economist Manuel Trajtenberg on Wednesday announced his decision to run on the joint Labor Party-Hatnuah ticket in the March elections. He said he had resigned as chairman of the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education in Israel.
Former Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon had also reportedly asked Trajtenberg to join his new party, Kulanu. The chairwoman of Hatnuah, former Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, offered Trajtenberg a reserved slot on the joint slate she and Labor Party chairman Isaac Herzog are running.
Trajtenberg told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu he was stepping down immediately from his position with the organization that administers Israel’s colleges and universities. In a letter to Netanyahu, Trajtenberg said his decision to run for the Knesset was motivated by “the belief that I can contribute to the economy’s continued prosperity while shaping a more just society.”
Sources close to Livni said Trajtenberg would receive either one of the slots on the joint list earmarked for candidates from Hatnuah or a position to be agreed on between Livni and Herzog.
It is not yet clear which current Hatnuah Knesset members will receive reserved slots. Amir Peretz is thought to be in the top 10 but it is not clear where Amram Mitzna, who had been considered likely to get Hatnuah’s number-3 spot, will be placed. Trajtenberg’s decision to accept Livni’s invitation could mean that Mitzna will be “demoted” to a lower place on the list. Livni has declined to announce Mitzna’s position on the ticket. The top 20 spots on the joint list are considered high enough to give their holders a reasonable chance of securing a Knesset seat.
Trajtenberg was head of the National Economic Council from 2006 to 2009. In 2011 Netanyahu tapped him to head a committee that negotiated with the leaders of the social protest and issued recommendations for solving the crisis and increasing social equality.
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