Israel Election: Labor Voters Give First-time Lawmaker, Reform Leader Top Slots Over Sitting Ministers

Lawmakers Naama Lazimi and Gilad Kariv took the second and third spots in the party's primary election after Chairwoman Merav Michaeli, while the party's only Arab lawmaker Ibtisam Mara'ana took the eighth

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Labor Party leader Merav Michaeli (center) stands with party lawmakers Naama Lazimi and Gilad Kariv at her side following the party's primary election on Tuesday.
Labor Party leader Merav Michaeli (center) stands with party lawmakers Naama Lazimi and Gilad Kariv at her side following the party's primary election on Tuesday.Credit: Moti Milrod

A first-term progressive lawmaker won the Labor primary election on Tuesday and will be placed second on its list for Israel's November 1 election after party leader Merav Michaeli, while voters left two current ministers without a realistic shot at making it to the next Knesset.

Lawmaker Naama Lazimi, a former Haifa councilwoman, received the most votes from party members. She became a Knesset member after Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev gave up his seat under a law that lets cabinet members resign from parliament and be replaced by other members of their party while keeping their ministerial positions, to increase the party's overall representation in government.

Lazimi thanked her supporters and "everyone who believed that this is the path Labor Party should take toward a welfare state."

Bar-Lev took the ninth slot on the list. According to most public opinion polls, the party would not win enough seats in November to grant him another term as lawmaker.

The party's bylaws call for the list to alternate by gender, starting from the second slot. The man who got the most votes from party members and took the third slot is Gilad Kariv, a Reform rabbi and leader.

Labor Party lawmakers stand around party leader Merav Michaeli following the party's primary elections on Tuesday.Credit: Moti Milrod

In a statement, Kariv thanked voters and promised to ensure "Israel isn't run by a coalition of extremists."

Consistent with public opinion polls before the election, almost half the party's senior members did not find themselves on the list. After Kariv, the fourth slot was taken by Efrat Rayten, followed by Ram Shefa, Emilie Moatti, Yair 'Yaya' Fink and Ibtisam Mara'ana – the only Arab in the first 10 slots on the party's list.

Apart from Bar-Lev, another current minister, Nachman Shai, is similarly unlikely to make it to the next Knesset. He was placed 17th on the party's list.

Election polls show the Labor Party is only expected to receive five seats in the Knesset. In the last elections, the party won seven seats, but has nine active ministers and Knesset members.

Labor party memebers Efrat Rayten, Ibtisam Mara’ana and Ram Shefa, last month.Credit: מוטי מילרוד

Party leader Michaeli did not voice support for any of the candidates. She reserves the right to personally appoint two seats out of each ten in the list, which she has stressed would only happen, if ever, after the primaries. In the last election, Michaeli did not end up using this right.

Labor party MK Emilie Moatti at a Labor primary event, last month.Credit: Moti Milrod

On Monday, Michaeli emphasized the Labor Party's role in promoting democracy.

“Many parties talk about the importance of democracy and the need to protect it. Sadly, many of those parties do not practice democracy, and thus contribute to its weakening and decline.

"Against them stands the Labor party, a true democratic party where women and men make decisions together, listen to the voters and hold primaries properly, both for the position of Chair and the list. I wish all candidates the best of luck, and I am certain that together we shall form an excellent list for the Knesset.”

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