Mitzna Set to Throw Hat Into Labor Leadership Showdown

Former chairman of the Labor Party tells supporters there is 'a good chance' he will enter the party leadership race.

Amram Mitzna, the former chairman of the Labor Party, is mobilizing supporters in a bid to compete once again for the party leadership. Mitzna is expected to make a final decision within several weeks, and until then, he plans to hold meetings and consultations with central party figures and former political allies.

On Passover eve, Mitzna sent a short email to his supporters wishing them a happy holiday and notifying them that there was a good chance he would enter the political race.

"I consider it to be the right thing to do, to inform you that I am close to making a decision about the possibility of getting back into national politics," he wrote. "There is a reasonable possibility that I will come back and run for the leadership of Labor, on the assumption that it is possible to change the party and adapt it to the challenges of the future."

Mitzna confirmed to Haaretz yesterday that he is close to reaching his final decision. "Conditions are now better than ever," he said. "I have been moving toward the conclusion that in the current reality, the situation of Labor following the departure of [Ehud] Barak and the expectations it has stirred among the general public and the young have created conditions that make change possible."

Mitzna said he would announce his final decision in early May. "Meanwhile I have more meetings and discussions that I need to make with people," he said. "The responses have been positive. There is certainly momentum."

Mitzna is expected to hold a critical meeting immediately after the holiday with MK Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, who is now recuperating at home following a long stay in the hospital, where he was treated for complications resulting from pneumonia. Ben-Eliezer, considered to be the party elder, has been very sought after as an ally by all those candidates vying for the party leadership.

If Mitzna does decide to run, Ben-Eliezer is expected to endorse his candidacy. In a meeting held between the two several months ago, when Barak was on his way out, Ben-Eliezer urged Mitzna to run for the party leadership and promised to support him.

If Mitzna does run, he will face off against another former party leader, MK Amir Peretz, as well as two other Labor MKs - Isaac Herzog and Shelly Yachimovich. All these candidates are expected to be focusing on social issues, with Mitzna banking on his recent years as caretaker mayor in the development town of Yerucham, a career shift which has earned him widespread praise.

Mitzna realizes he needs to decide quickly since the party will close its membership registry in June, and it is on the basis of that list that party primaries will be held in September.