Yacimovich Fires Back at Herzog: 'Lieberman's Red Carpet'

Mutual recriminations between Labor leaders over breakdown of coalition talks and Yisrael Beiteinu joining government.

Tomer Appelbaum

The mutual recriminations between opposition chairman Isaac Herzog and his main rival in the Labor Party and the Zionist Union partnership, Shelly Yacimovich, over Herzog’s failed bid to join the governing coalition continued on Thursday.

In an interview to Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet Thursday morning, Yacimovich responded to Herzog’s verbal attacks on her at a press conference Wednesday night in the wake of the breakdown of talks between Herzog and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the latter’s announcement that Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party would be joining the government instead. Among other jabs, Herzog said that his predecessor as Labor Party head “will be in charge of Lieberman’s appointment as defense minister.”

Yacimovich said the attack was a calculated attempt to divert attention from Herzog’s failure and turn it into a duel. “It’s such a brute display of shaking off responsibility, of lack of leadership, of searching for someone to blame, of excuses and shooting in all directions after ongoing humiliation that continues and continues,” she said.

Yacimovich said Herzog “was a tool in Netanyahu’s hands and the red carpet on which Lieberman stepped into the Netanyahu government.” She added that she, together with fellow Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni and other senior party officials, tried to quietly dissuade Herzog from his bid to join the coalition.

Yacimovich also remarked on a tweet posted by Herzog Thursday morning, according to which “The extreme left placed security in Lieberman’s hands. There is no place in the extreme left for the Zionist Union.” According to Yacimovich, the statement is “very grave ... the party chairman who is willing to slide the Labor Party into the Netanyahu-Bennett-Shaked government without anything to show for it uses their rhetoric to deligitimize a very large camp within the peace camp,” she said, referring to Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.

“It’s a very dangerous crossing of a border that is very difficult for the party’s voters, in my eyes it is unforgivable,” Yacimovich said.

“There is no doubt that everyone who lost [Defense Minister Moshe] Ya’alon will be eating their hat, he is a national leader of the highest stature and is accepted by every camp. There is no doubt that [Ya’alon] earned his place in the top of the national leadership and is highly trusted, and I would be happy to see him in the most influential positions,” she added.