Former talk-show hostess MK Shelly Yechimovitch has announced that she will vie for the position of Labor Party head when elections are held this September.
Yechimovitch was a well-known and influential broadcaster on Voice of Israel Radio for several years. She has admitted that she used her position to promote positions and personalities to her liking, such as the IDF’s withdrawal from Lebanon and Labor colleague MK Amir Peretz.
Labor was long Israel’s largest party, but has been decimated in recent years – most recently by the formation of the Kadima Party and ex-leader Ehud Barak’s abrupt departure together with four other MKs to form the new Independence faction. Labor now has eight Knesset Members, its lowest number in decades – and they themselves are not united.
“It is a tremendous challenge,” Yechimovitch wrote this week to her supporters, “to extricate the party from its crisis of values and leadership in which it is mired. I am sure that I can restore the hope to many circles of people who long for a change.”
“The weight of the mission is clear to me,” she wrote, “but does not deter me.”
Yechimovitch, now in her second Knesset term, long fought for Labor not to join the Likud-led government. She says that only a return to social-democratic ideals “will grant hope and renewal, and will bring us support from broad sectors from all ends of the political spectrum.”
Also expected to run for the post are MKs Peretz, Yitzchak Herzog and Avishai Braverman – all former Cabinet ministers who resigned their posts immediately after Barak quit the party and remained in the government. Former Labor leaders Amram Mitzna and Binyamin Ben-Eliezer have said they will not seek the post again. Shlomo Buchbut, the Mayor of Maalot and head of the Center for Local Government, has said he is considering running.
The Labor Party is currently headed temporarily by former MK Micha Harish.