The Labor Party chairman never was a left-wing party, but rather a centrist one, its chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich asserted on Thursday.
In an interview with the settlement-movement radio station Arutz Sheva, Yacimovich said that calling Labor a left-wing party is a historical injustice. "Labor has always drawn its power from being a centrist party. There have been both hawks and doves within its ranks, and there has always been an argument among them. Labor has always drawn its power from advocating peace, but pragmatically," she said.
Over the last few months, Yacimovich has been courting right-leaning voters, mostly because of an in-depth poll conducted for her party, which suggests that Likud could lose five Knesset seats to Labor in the coming election.
In addition, Yacimovich has recently been expressing intentions to implement a policy similar to that of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, regarding negotiations with the Palestinians.
Yacimovich told her interviewer that she appreciates the settler community. “I have appreciation for an ideological community, and I believe that any policy move must be based on national consensus and not come from a place of hatred, hostility or disrespect.
“The Labor party’s pragmatic view is two states for two peoples, a permanent arrangement with the Palestinians, as well as determining borders and territorial exchanges that would retain the settlement blocs and 80 percent of the settlers. The opposite of this arrangement would be a single state, and that would be a danger to a Jewish and democratic state.” Yacimovich used the words “hityashvut” and “mityashvim,” which are less politically charged words for “settlement” and “settlers” than the more commonly used “hitnahlut” and “mitnahlim.”
Some 83 Labor party members are expected to run for a spot on the party’s Knesset list. The party’s central election committee Thursday approved their candidacies, including the group of young, influential “rising stars” that recently joined the party, even though most of them have not been party members for at least six months as required by the party bylaws.
Thus, Merav Michaeli’s candidacy was approved, although sources close to Yacimovich have hinted recently that they would have preferred not to allow Michaeli to run. (Michaeli, a journalist and social activist, is a columnist for Haaretz.) “There are more than a few people trying to take advantage of the party’s momentum in the polls to gain a seat in the Knesset at the expense of people who have been party loyalists for years,” said Labor party officials.
The committee also approved the candidacies of social protest leaders Stav Shaffir and Itzik Shmuli; journalist Miki Rosenthal; businessman Erel Margalit; former commander of the Sayeret Matkal commando unit, Omer Bar Lev; educator Hili Tropper; executive director of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, Rabbi Gilad Kariv; and two Kadima MKs, Nino Abesadze and Nachman Shai.