Ex-minister Herzog to Take on Labor Leader Yacimovich in Party Primary

Isaac Herzog and two senior Labor Party colleagues blame incumbent Shelly Yacimovich for shunning the peace process. The leadership contest is set for November 21.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Labor MK Isaac Herzog said Monday he would challenge party leader Shelly Yacimovich in the November 21 primary, with senior MKs Erel Margalit and Eitan Cabel backing him up in a bid to make the party more of a team effort.

At a press conference, Margalit and Cabel said they were dropping their efforts to become chairman in favor of former minister Herzog, who added that Yacimovich did not provide a clear alternative to the center-right government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“The trio of Bibi, Lapid and Bennett is acting arrogantly and myopically,” Herzog said, referring to Netanyahu, Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett.

”The people are realizing at record speed that they have no alternative. They see the Labor Party as an auditing committee, not a party. Labor under Yacimovich has failed. Forty-eight seats went to the center-left, who didn’t want Bibi but wanted a different way. Of them, this party got only 15 seats. What’s that if not a failure?”

According to Cabel, “There’s no peace process ... no separation of religion and state. I respect the economic issues, but a party that wants to lead cannot narrow its focus.”

He said the trio of Herzog, Margalit and Cabel “can take this party where it used to be. Herzog is a team player. I trust you to make us a team again instead of individual players.”

Herzog, who turns 53 next month, is the son of the late Chaim Herzog, president of Israel from 1983 to 1993. He currently heads the party’s representation in the Knesset.

“In recent times, the Labor Party has distanced itself from a large part of the population that belongs to it. It has failed in important ways under Yacimovich,” Margalit said.

“She has lost the diplomatic voice .... At the economic level, Yacimovich has done a great deal as one who laid bare the demand for social justice and the anger among the people toward the center of the political map," he said.

"But alternatives are not built out of anger, they are built out of hope. The third thing is the split Yacimovich led within the party, which leaves Arabs and Druze out of the party’s main debate.”

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