Yacimovich: I'm Likely to Run Against Herzog for Labor Leadership

Zionist Union MK says that it was her duty to criticize party leader's comments that 'now is not the time for a Palestinian state.'

Tomer Appelbaum

MK Shelly Yacimovich said on Saturday morning that there is a "high probability" that she will run for the leadership of the Labor Party, but claimed that she hasn’t reached a decision on the topic yet. She also said that she isn’t planning to compete for the leadership of the Histadrut labor federation.

Following her attack on Zionist Union and Labor leader Isaac Herzog earlier this week for his comments to the French president that "now is not the time for a Palestinian state," Yacimovich said that it was her duty to do so.

"At the end of a week in which the peace camp was under widespread assault by extreme right-wing elements, it's already clear to all that Herzog's remarks to President [Francois] Hollande were a mistake," she said. "This is definitely not the time to look rightwards giving up on diplomatic negotiations is wrong. We have to lead such a way and not submit to the hopeless vision of [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu."

Herzog's comments constituted a complete reversal of the Labor Party's outlook, Yacimovich said, adding that had she and her fellow party members not criticized them, they would have betrayed their positions.

Herzog replied to Yacimovich's comments, suggesting that her loyalties lay in fact with the ideals of the political Right. 

"Does Shelly support the vision of the Arab-Jewish state of the messianics? Is that the reason she opposes Herzog's separation plan that will stop the Arab-Jewish state and promises that Israel will remain a Jewish state?" asked a statement from Herzog's office.

In a meeting with Hollande in Paris last weekend, Herzog presented his plan to separate from the Palestinians, and said that while he is "a huge advocate of the two-state vision, but we have to be realistic. It can't take place now. The hatred and incitement among the Palestinians is too great, the animosity between the peoples and the inability of the leaders prevent it."

Omer Bar-Lev, an MK from Herzog's own Zionist Union, also weighed in, calling for a cease-fire between Herzog and Yacimovich and the personal conflict between them.

"I request from party members Herzog and Yacimovich to stay on the path and not nitpick over semantics," said Bar-Lev. "Let's convene around a real initiative that will serve as an answer to the stagnation of the Right."

Joint Arab List chairman Ayman Odeh also sharply criticized Herzog's remarks. "There is no opposition leader in Israel, Bougie [Herzog] is a faint shadow of Netanyahu, and people will always prefer the original," he said on Saturday. "If he thinks that the two-state solution is irrelevant, then he's irrelevant and should quit immediately. Bougie doesn’t deserve to be the opposition leader, because the essence of this position is to offer an alternative to the government."

In response to Odeh's comments, the Zionist Union said that "In his comments, Odeh joins [Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali] Bennett and Netanyahu. They caved in to messianics from the extreme right who are inflicting actual disaster on us, a disaster of one Arab and Jewish state. This is what Odeh's comments sounds like when he refutes Herzog's separation plan, which is meant to prevent this great danger. Herzog's plan will guarantee the two-state vision and keep Israel a Jewish state. It must suit Odeh that Bibi [Netanyahu] is in power because it advances his goals."