New Opposition leader Yechimovich’s first name is Shelly but the Labor party leader could be named “Angry” after what she called the “dirty deal” by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Kadima party chairman Shaul Mofaz.
The surprise unity government deal in the middle of the night surprised everybody but the leaders themselves and leaves Yechimovich leading a tiny opposition, headed by her party’s eight Knesset Members along with the left-wing Meretz party’s three MKs and 10 more from three predominantly Arab parties.
The National Union also is in the opposition but has little common ground with the other parties out of the coalition.
“This filthy and ugly exercise is a form of pollution that damages democracy,” said Yechimovich in a bitter and angry voice on Israeli radio Tuesday morning.
She predicted that the Labor party’s political situation will improve by the time of elections, now put back to the original scheduled date of October 2013. Yechimovich explained that the party will gain more support because the public will see “we are not involved with these kinds of political deals. No one will forget this deal that shows Kadima for what it is.”
Yechimovich recalled that her predecessor Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who quit Labor last year to form his own Independence party, duplicated Mofaz’s political behavior by going back on his word not to join the coalition.
Barak and Mofaz, both of them former IDF Chiefs of Staff, have in the past broken their political promises within 24 hours. When former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced he would leave the Likud party and form a new party – Kadima – he vowed in a written letter to Likud members that he would remain in the Likud. The following morning, he joined Sharon.
Two months ago, after he defeated Tzipi Livni in Kadima’s leadership elections, he said, “We are the opposition. I will oppose Netanyahu.” He also said last year that Barak and Netanyahu are a “couple that is dangerous to Israel.”
Barak’s record is the same. After the elections four years ago, he vowed he would not join the coalition and then promptly reversed his position and entered the government with the portfolio of the Defense Ministry.
Yechimovich is certain that the public will not forget. “The public has lost faith in politicians.” she said Tuesday. “The coalition has left itself in isolation from the public.”
She pointed out that she opposed Barak’s joining the coalition and even refused a position as Cabinet minister rather than compromising her political principles.