Analysis / Shelly Comes in Shooting

Israel awoke yesterday morning to two political news items involving women: MK Dalia Itzik bolted Labor for Sharon, and Channel 2 journalist Shelly Yachimovich skipped to Amir Peretz.

Itzik went to Kadima bowed, bruised, with her party petered out and because they had taken a contract out on her. Because those bastards changed the rules and nobody told her. Shelly, fresh and bright, joined Peretz because she wants to sit on the Knesset Finance Committee and torpedo the things that annoy her. And so, without meaning to, Yachimovich defined herself and her new party as a fighting and uncompromising opposition. A kind of Tamar Gozansky, the former Hadash MK, whom Yachimovich frequently interviewed on the air, nodding in agreement with every word the lawmaker said.

Yachimovich will have to learn soon that this is not the image Amir Peretz wants to cultivate. He is going for broke - for prime minister and the Finance Ministry. That is why he drafted Prof. Avishai Braverman - to calm the markets, the stock exchange and the investors.

Statements like, "I came to torpedo" are more suited to Meretz, which is perhaps the main victim of Yachimovich's alliance with Peretz. Such statments may harm a party vying for leadership. Yachimovich's statements reflect a certain naivete. More than 20 people sit on the Knesset Finance Committee, all of whom are bound to faction discipline. Those who rebel are thrown out and a substitute is found. It will be interesting to follow the process of Yachimovich's acclimation to political and parliamentary life if she is elected to the Knesset, and it is likely she will be.

Every few years, the Labor Party produces a Knesset list that is not bad at all. Yachimovich will not need deals. Her face is known in every household, she is a celebrity, opinionated and well spoken. She did an admirable thing - she left a desirable and well-paid job for an adventure not without risk, albeit a calculated one.

In recent weeks, however, her journalistic career was not one to be proud of. She frequently mentioned her social-democratic positions yesterday, noting that she never concealed them, and even rather emphasized them. The problem is that Yachimovich did not make do with expressing positions. She identified personally with a candidate. Those who heard and watched her interviews with Amir Peretz before and after the primaries saw an outright and saccharine propaganda campaign.

The questions were not really questions, they were fulcrums for her suppositions. When Peretz had a problem ending a sentence, she did it for him. From time to time she complimented him on his answers. Well, she explained yesterday, after she revealed she had sent Peretz an SMS on the eve of the primaries wishing him good luck, I am not from the UN; I have an agenda. She even scolded her journalistic colleagues who did not behave as she did.

The departure of Haim Ramon, Dalia Itzik, Shimon Peres and possibly Ehud Barak as well, the possible squeezing of Matan Vilani off the top of the list by Peretz's battalions of party members, completely transforms the Labor list. That is what Peretz wanted, although it is doubtful the hard core of Labor voters wanted to see something so innovative.

Parliamentary and ministerial experience are important; Braverman, Yachimovich, Ami Ayalon and Peretz associate Racheli Turgeman do not have it. Even the chairman himself has never served as a minister.

Yachimovich may be bringing votes from a shrinking Meretz to Labor, but Prof.r Uriel Reichman yesterday joined Sharon, taking another bite out of the bleeding remains of Shinui. Reichman is the only acquisition to win a public pledge from Sharon: he is to be education minister. Meir Sheetrit, who has dreamed about the Education Ministry for years, certainly must have gnashed his teeth yesterday. Reichman's candidacy is intended as a response to Peretz's choice for the job - Yuli Tamir. Now both parties have choices for education minister. They do not have nominees for defense, finance, or foreign affairs - there would be no point. Any party that forms the next government will have to transfer two senior cabinet posts to the second largest party. These two parties, Kadima and Labor, are already preparing to divide the government between them. Only the Likud, the undisputed ruling party for the past five years, is not in the picture. No one is still counting them in.