Labour is set to turn left in Israel

By Nathan Jeffay, February 17, 2011

The Israeli labour party leadership primary is to be held on September 7. While the race is wide open, one thing is almost certain - there will be a shift to the left.

Last month Labour leader Ehud Barak left to form his own faction. Described by some as the most disliked man in the Knesset, policy-wise Mr Barak was viewed as on a different planet to the rest of the party. Notoriously fond of the high life, he was seen as indifferent to Labour's traditional social-welfare platform. Many in the party accused him of being too soft on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when pushing him to take negotiations with the Palestinians seriously.

Two men so far have declared their intention to run for leader - Isaac 'Bougie' Herzog, until recently Welfare Minister, and Avishai Braverman, until recently Minorities Minister. Other possible candidates are Amir Peretz and Amram Mitzna, who have already had stints as party leader, and Shelly Yachimovich.

The main domestic issue in Israel today is price rises. Against growing concern about social and economic issues, a return to left-wing domestic policy could strike a chord.

Last updated: 1:50pm, February 17 2011