After Cold Shoulder From Mayor, MK, Former General Takes Top Spot on Labor's Ticket

Maj. Gen. (res.) Tal Russo will be slated number 2 on the party's roster ■ Yisrael Beiteinu unveils Knesset slate

File photo: Maj. Gen. Tal Russo speaks to members of the media in Be'er Sheva, Israel, November 17, 2012.
Ilan Assayag

Israel's Labor Party announced on Tuesday that Maj. Gen. (res.) Tal Russo will be joining its ranks and be placed in the second spot on the roster for the upcoming election, a slot reserved for a candidate of party chairman Avi Gabbay’s choosing.

Russo served as commander of the Israel Defense Forces Depth Corps, which oversees special, long range operations, and head of the IDF’s Operations Directorate. He is expected to officially present his candidacy on Wednesday at a joint press conference with Gabbay.

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Haaretz reported on Monday that Be'er Sheva Mayor Ruvik Danilovich turned down Gabbay’s offer of the second slot.  "In the three last election campaigns I received offers from various parties," Danilovich said. "I thanked them politely then, and this time too, to everyone who asks, I see my public mission in the Negev as a national mission."

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MK Haim Jelin, who resigned from Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party on Thursday, declined Gabbay’s offer of the 10th slot on Labor’s roster. Jelin said he felt uncomfortable moving from one party to another within such a short time.

The Labor party said it would not discuss the issue of reserved slots on its roster. Gabbay reportedly wants to vary the current list with figures who represent worldviews or values that do not manifest themselves in the list as it stands now. He is reportedly looking into bringing now-defunct Hatnuah MK Yael Cohen Paran, leading environmental activist and co-chairwoman of the Green Movement, into Labor.

Meanwhile, Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu unveiled its Knesset slate for the upcoming election on Tuesday. The second-place slot, following Lieberman, will go to MK Oded Forer. He will be followed by journalist Evgeny Sova, businessman Eli Avidar and former MK Yulia Malinovsky.

The rest of the top ten, in order, will consist of Deputy Knesset Speaker Hamad Amar, former Immigrant Absorption Ministry director general Alex Kushner, Sderot Deputy Mayor Mark Ifraimov, jurist Limor Magen-Telem and Dr. Elina Bardach-Yalov.

At a party event in the southern city of Ashkelon, Lieberman commented on the party’s poor showing in the polls, where it is averaging four to five Knesset seats. "This is psychological warfare, manipulation," he said. "We aren’t paying attention to the polls, we’re out working in the field … With the help of hard work by all those present in this hall, we can even reach a double-digit number."