Former Labor Leader Hopes Party Won't Pay 'Heavy Price' Over Herzog Suspicions

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MK Shelly Yacimovich (Zionist Union) during a Knesset Education Committee meeting, December 2015.
Zionist Union MK Shelly Yacimovich during a Knesset Education Committee meeting, December 2015. Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

Former Labor Party leader Shelly Yacimovich, who had refrained from commenting on a police inquiry into the conduct of the party’s current head, Isaac Herzog, said Saturday that she hopes the party “does not pay too high a price” over the matter.

Among the suspicions is that Herzog used improper means to fund his successful 2013 bid to unseat Yacimovich as leader of the Labor Party, which is in a joint faction, the Zionist Union, with the Hatnuah party in the current Knesset. Herzog denies any wrongdoing.

Attempting to dispel any impression that she greeted the investigation as positive news, Yacimovich said, “it’s an embarrassing situation for me because at least one of the matters being investigated has a direct connection to me." She stated that she preferred not to say much on the matter because anything could potentially be construed as a personal or political attack. “I just hope that the truth comes to light,” she added.

Herzog continues to maintain that the inquiry is the result of a political scheme concocted against him. He hinted that the current investigation is the product of the designs of people within his own party rather than from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud. Associates of Herzog have explicitly mentioned Labor Party MK Erel Margalit, who has said he would consider challenging Herzog for the party leadership and has been waging a campaign to move up the party primary. However, Herzog's associates have not produced any evidence implicating Margalit.

For his part, Margalit came to Herzog’s defense on the police inquiry, saying that the party leader is an honest man and that the case involves an initial inquiry rather than a formal criminal investigation. Margalit added, however, that Herzog would have to suspend himself from office if he were indicted.

Plummeting polling numbers for the party, a loss of support to Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid and the party’s difficult time in shaping a substantial public agenda have led a number of Labor Knesset members to wonder whether to seek moving up the party primary to cut short Herzog’s term as leader.