Rebellion Against Isaac Herzog Brewing Before Sunday's Labor Convention

MKs say chairman will try to stack central committee with members who would rubber-stamp any move he favored.

Ofer Vaknin

The Labor Party central committee will gather Sunday evening under a shadow of suspicion and criticism from party MKs that their chairman, MK Yitzhak Herzog, is planning far-reaching moves to tighten his hold on the party.

Herzog will seek authorization to change the membership of the central committee, the body that would decide on potential future steps such as Labor's entry into a national unity government or a delay of the party leadership primary. Over the weekend, Herzog published a list of 450 names he wants to add to the central committee.

"The new membership of the central committee will not stop Herzog if he wants to join Netanyahu's coalition," a Labor MK told Haaretz, who examined the list of names. Referring to that list, "Several MKs have representatives on it, but some have a larger number of them. It's not at all clear if Herzog is aiming to join a national unity government, but if he wants to, the central committee will not stand in his way," the MK said.  

Another Labor source said, "With the central committee in Herzog's hands, he will be able to win backing for decisions such as delaying the primaries, which are supposed to be held by May, and bolster his power over the next two years."

In a letter yesterday to central committee members, Labor MK Miki Rosenthal denounced Herzog's move to stack the decision-making body.

"Instead of electing the membership of the central committee now, more and more names are being added to the existing membership," Rosenthal wrote. "This wholesale addition of members distorts the voter's will and harms the central committee's democratic character. If we seek life and democracy, we must quickly elect a new central committee, dissolve the current one, and renew and revive the Labor Party bureau, too, along with the party's other democratic institutions, and stop delaying again and again the election of party chairman."

Rosenthal's letter continued, "There is an obsessive, almost exclusive concern with the identity of the party chairman and whether he or she is the one who will win us the wreath of power. We will not win unless we have a direction. We will not attain power if we do not lay out a new vision for Israeli society. In the last two election campaigns, we failed. We still haven't learned the lessons of these failures, there has been no serious discussion of the matter in the party's major institutions, there has been no thorough examination."

The Labor Party responded, "The Labor Party is committed to completing the process of filling out the ranks of the central committee, in line with a binding, unambiguous ruling by the district court that deliberated the issue. This process is precisely what will put the party's functions in motion and bring about an end to this constant focus on internal matters."