ANALYSIS / Labor Primary Salvages Beleaguered Party From Computer Fiasco

As chairman of a major political party, Barak is a handful. As defense minister, there's nobody better.

There is nary a bad word that can be said about the Labor Party slate which was officially unveiled Friday morning at the Trade Fairs Center in Tel Aviv. The first ten names include outstanding parliamentarians, as good as any in the Knesset (Shelly Yachimovich, Ophir Pines-Paz), a world-renowned economist whose place at upper echelon of the party was certainly aided by the global financial crisis (Avishai Braverman), experienced ministers (Isaac Herzog, Benjamin Ben-Eliezer), men with a defense background (Ehud Barak, Matan Vilnai) and even a new face (Daniel Ben Simon) who managed to join the group. The problem is that save for Ben Simon, this is the same group, the same people who played a type of game of musical chairs and simply switched places. This one went up, the other went down. One guy was promoted, another demoted. In other words, this is the dawn of an old day.

The most noticeable swap is that between Amir Peretz, the former party chairman, and Shelly Yachimovich. He rounds out the top ten while she sits in fifth place. From this day forth, she is officially and unequivocally the leader of the social wing of the Labor Party, this just two-and-a-half years after she was recruited to the party by her former patron, Peretz.

All in all, Labor finished up quite a successful week. The smooth, devious, and successful evacuation in Hebron was credited to Ehud Barak. As chairman of a major political party, he's a problematic figure. As a defense minister, there is nobody better.

The campaign of self-criticism which Labor has waged, supposedly against Barak, arouses interest, incites an argument, and as such is exactly what Labor needs right now. The slate which was picked Friday morning does not pick it up, nor does it bring it down.

A word of praise for party secretary-general Eitan Cabel is in order. After the computer fiasco on Tuesday, his success in quickly organizing a party primary within 48 hours was exceptional. If this primary would have flopped, he would not survive in his post.

In light of the primary, the odds of Labor joining a Netanyahu government, should Likud win the election on February 10, are seemingly slim. Pines-Paz, Yachimovich, Cabel, Ben Simon, and who knows, maybe even Herzog and Barak will this time drag themselves to the opposition in order to invent "the new Labor movement." Only there do they have a chance to build themselves up as an alternative to the ruling party. They certainly don't have that chance as Netanyahu's spare tire.