With New Labor Contenders, Shelly Yacimovich Hits a Tel Avivian Chord

Journalist Merav Michaeli announces she will run for spot on Labor Party list; an analysis of the hometowns of Labor contenders indicates the big cities come first.

Tal Schneider
Tal Schneider

A long line of new faces, including leading media and education professionals, is a familiar sight in the Labor Party. In 2006, when Amir Peretz had recently been elected to head the party ahead of the election for the 17th Knesset, he boasted a list of candidates that included Avishay Braverman, who is now a Labor MK but at the time was president of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and touted as Israel's next finance minister.

He was joined by television journalist Shelly Yacimovich, who now heads the party, and by actor Alon Aboutboul; online gambling magnate Avi Shaked, known as the "millionaire socialist"; and Aryeh Amit, a former Jerusalem police chief.

Labor won 19 Knesset seats in that election. Some saw this as an achievement because the star-studded list may have helped the party maintain its electoral strength relative to the 2003 election. On the other hand, Kadima, which won that election, got 10 more Knesset seats than it had in 2003 after prominent Laborites like Dalia Itzik, Haim Ramon and Shimon Peres, now Israel's president, ditched Labor for Kadima.

In recent weeks it has been Yacimovich's turn to showcase the party's newest recruits. This may indicate momentum in the Labor Party, but it remains to be seen whether they actually draw more voters or score a Knesset seat themselves. And if they do, Yacimovich will have to forge ahead with a string of novice legislators, whether the Labor Party ends up in the coalition or the opposition.

The Labor Party convention is expected to approve the primaries procedure on Tuesady, and the list will be opened to candidates Wednesday for one week.

Tel Aviv in the lead

The map of Labor Party candidates - at least the candidates we were able to find out about, given that the slate has yet to be finalized - shows a very large concentration of candidates in the major urban areas, with Tel Aviv in the lead, followed by Jerusalem and Haifa. There are 17 new candidates from the greater Tel Aviv area - including new recruit Merav Michaeli who announced she is running on Tuesday. That number is in addition to five of the eight current Labor MKs who live in the city or its suburbs. There are 11 candidates from the greater Jerusalem area, though none of the current MKs lives in the capital.

There are hardly any candidates from the south of the country. On the assumption that MK Amir Peretz will be ranked high on the Labor ticket, he will fill the spot for a representative of the south; this could push the other candidate from the south, Meir Babayof of Be'er Sheva, too far down the list to win a Knesset seat.

From the kibbutzim, the historical bastion of the Labor Party, come four candidates, among them Zeev (Velvale ) Shor of Kibbutz Ein Gev, the secretary of the Kibbutz Movement. Additional candidates are David Drumlevich of Kibbutz Ramat Rachel, Yonah Prital of Kibbutz Ma'aleh Hahamisha and Shimi Baron of Kibbutz Shefayim. From the moshavim come contenders Uri Saguy of Kfar Bialik and Danny Atar of Gan Ner, though it isn't clear whether or not they will vie for the slot reserved for a representative of the moshavim.

We have assembled the candidate names and their cities or towns based on a combination of information they have sent us, as well as by examining open-source data and asking the MKs' or candidates' assistants. We asked the party for the complete list, but were told they are still finalizing it, so the final ticket may include more candidates than those addressed here.

In addition to incumbent MK Raleb Majadele, there are two other Arab contenders: former MK Nadia Hilou from Jaffa and Fathi Amara from Kafr Kana.

It is interesting to note that the list of contenders includes only one immigrant: MK Nino Abesadze, who is originally from the former Soviet state of Georgia and has recently left Kadima to join Labor. This week we spoke with another immigrant Kadima MK, Shlomo Molla, who moved to Israel from Ethiopia, and asked him if he too has decided to move over to Labor. Molla said he was waiting for former Kadima leader Tzipi Livni to announce her political intentions before deciding what to do. In any case, candidates for the Labor Party's immigrant slot are thin on the ground and there are currently no candidates from the Ethiopian community.

MK Merav Michaeli.Credit: Hadar Cohen



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