Labor Okays Unity Deal With Livni's Hatnuah

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Isaac Herzog, left, at the Labor Party meeting, December 14, 2014. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Labor Party chairman Isaac Herzog aced the test of Sunday’s party convention, with even rival Shelly Yacimovich warmly congratulating him on his decision run on a joint list with Tzipi Livni’s Hatnuah, describing the buzz the move created as a “miracle.”

“I tip my hat to you,” Yacimovich said to Herzog, in an exceptionally supportive speech, in which she made clear that she saw the joint list for upcoming election on March 17 as a great accomplishment.

“Every so often a miracle occurs. This is a party that until only a short while ago was marking time, and it shook the dust off its shoulders, straightened its head and sees new hope.

“But miracles don’t happen by themselves,” continued Yacimovich. “The person who made the move that led to our amazing revival within two weeks is Isaac Herzog.”

Herzog, in his emotional address, described the move as “A true partnership. It’s a partnership of leaders and parties that have the good of the state at the top of their agenda and priorities.”

Pavilion No. 10 at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds looked festive as Herzog took his seat under a huge banner reading “We will triumph together,” after being received with chants of “revolution” from the crowd. It was likely the last time he would appear at a major party event without Livni at his side. Party officials stressed that the decision to run with Livni indeed provided an opportunity to win the national leadership.

Party general secretary Hilik Bar mocked attempts to portray Herzog as a nerd lacking charisma. “This nerd will send you all home and will be the next prime minister,” he told the audience.

There was very little criticism heard Sunday of the agreement Herzog reached with Livni, which, aside from rotating the premiership between Herzog and Livni, reserves six of the first 25 places on the list for Hatnuah party members and three additional spots for other possible star players.

“I, too, would have preferred that the only [prime ministerial] candidate be Herzog,” said Yacimovich, in her address. “I don’t like reserved spots either. But for such an agreement, out of pragmatism and to uphold our values, one must make concessions. When we weigh the disadvantages against the advantages, the advantages are enormous. It’s called hope, because our nation has had it with the Netanyahu regime.”

In his address, Herzog explained his decision to cooperate with Livni. “I didn’t need polls to feel that you, the party membership, understand as I do that we have here something different, something big and stirring,” he said. “Together we will lead the highest quality joint list that will win the elections and change the leadership. I will replace Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Labor Party led by me will replace the Likud at the helm, and together with you we will lead the State of Israel.”

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