Labor party leader MK Shelly Yechimovich said on Thursday that she sees herself as a candidate for the position of Prime Minister, and declared that she does not rule out a future partnership with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud party. Yechimovich spoke during a public forum at the Gordon College in Haifa.
“I took my time before I announced that I see myself as a candidate for Prime Minister because I’m not detached from reality,” she said. “The Labor party had four seats in the poll on the eve of Ehud Barak’s departure from the party. Some people were already eulogizing us, but I believed in the Labor Party.”
Yechimovich added that despite her sharp attacks against Netanyahu, particularly over the recent economic measures, she does not rule out a future partnership between Labor and Likud.
“I am not prepared to veto any coalition partners right now; this is political folly,” she said. “I may get applause for doing so, but I'm not going to do it. I guarantee that I won’t lead the party to a place where there is no decisive influence on Israeli society.”
A poll conducted last week found that the public’s dissatisfaction with Netanyahu would affect his party’s seats if elections were held today.
The poll found that in the last month, the Likud party has lost four seats and would win 25 seats if elections were held today. Likud would be the Knesset’s largest party, the poll found, but Labor would gain strength and be the second largest with 21 seats.
The primary reason for the drop in Netanyahu’s popularity was the approval of a set of measures aimed at reducing the deficit. The measures include a hike in the VAT and income tax and cuts to the budgets of many ministries.
Yechimovich said during the public forum that she is not at all concerned about her lack of ministerial and management experience.
“Ultimately there is one body that determines whether I am worthy to lead or not, and that is the public that goes to the polls and chooses,” she said. “The public does not elect a manager or CEO, but a leader. The question that should be asked is whether the way I am leading is the right one for Israeli society.”
Yechimovich added that U.S. President Barack Obama also did not come to his position with experience, saying, “I would like to remind that Obama arrived with less experience as a senator than I have, that David Cameron in the UK passed fewer loss than I did. They all came not as ministers but rather from the Senate and the Parliament, and they were chosen because the public thought it was the right thing to do.”