Labour glammed-up but not hot for power

Leader Shelly Yachimovich and member Isaac Herzog during a press conference. (Photo: Flash 90)

Leader Shelly Yachimovich and member Isaac Herzog during a press conference. (Photo: Flash 90)

V This could have been Shelly Yachimovich’s week. With a fresh and attractive list emerging from the Labour primaries and the launch of her new economic plan, probably the most comprehensive social and fiscal manifesto ever published by an Israeli party, she should have been well on her way to setting the election’s agenda and re-establishing Labour as a viable political force.

Instead, like most of her predecessors in recent years, the Labour leader has found herself overtaken by events and beset by critics from within the party and competitors for the centre ground.

The launch of Labour’s “plan for a fair economy” on Monday evening was well-rehearsed and went ahead according to schedule, but it received little attention with news outlets focused on the diplomatic crisis between Israel and Europe over the latest plans to build beyond the Green Line.

The election of feminist activist Merav Michaeli to fifth spot on the party list — topped by Isaac Herzog — last week despite the lack of support from Ms Yachimovich is one of many simmering tensions within the party.
On Sunday, Ms Yacimovich cancelled a meeting with Amir Peretz, the former leader and defence minister who had come second in the primaries. Mr Peretz had spent the weekend demanding that Ms Yachimovich begin emphasising Labour’s positions on the peace process and that the party announce that it does not intend to join the Likud-Beiteinu coalition should Benjamin Netanyahu form the next government.

Merav Michaeli: won fifth spot on party list. (Photo: Flash 90)

Merav Michaeli: won fifth spot on party list. (Photo: Flash 90)

This was seen as a direct challenge to Ms Yachimovich, who has not only been running almost exclusively on a social and economic ticket but has also gone out of her way to court right-wing voters. Last month she gave an interview to Arutz Sheva, the settlers’ news organization, in which she said that to call Labour a left-wing party was “an historical travesty”. Another reason for trying to downplay the party’s “peacenik” image is that Ms Yachimovich is interested in joining the next coalition in order to gain the ministerial experience she so far lacks.

Another former Labour Leader, Amram Mitzna, who joined Tzipi Livni’s new party “Hatnuah” this week, said: “For the first time in its existence, the Labour party is not talking about peace and not offering a real alternative to the right-wing government.”

Last updated: 9:45am, December 7 2012