Labor chairwoman Shelly Yechimovich and Tzipi Livni of the "Hatnua" party traded barbs on Thursday evening, after MK Amir Peretz announced earlier in the day that he is leaving the Labor list and joining Livni's list.
Despite being relieved that Peretz, who was her main rival within the party, had defected to Livni, Yechimovich called the move a “moral low.”
"The public is overwhelmed by the moral low and by the fact that every time a new record is broken in Israeli politics,” she said during a conference of Labor activists in Tel Aviv.
"Do not give in to these scenes of political corruption, opportunism, the plots, the spins, the impulse, to the subversion, to the games which have no values,” said Yechimovich. “It does not have to be that way. There is also normal politics based on democracy and values. Dear public, you deserve better.”
Livni’s party said in response to Yechimovich’s criticism, "The reactions by Yechimovich and the Labor party are indicative of hysteria and confusion. Taking a seat from a party after the public elected you and going to another party it is opportunism. However, coming to the public before the election and introducing to it a common path and request confidence in that common path - that is the correct and necessary politics.”
Livni’s response fails to mention that earlier this week seven MKs from her former party, Kadima, split the party to join her, taking their election funding with them. The seven left Kadima realizing it is not likely to get enough votes to be in the next Knesset.
It is also hard to understand what exactly is the “common path” shared by the people on Livni’s list. It contains MKs such as Meir Sheetrit, who served as a Minister within the Ministry of Finance when Binyamin Netanyahu was Finance Minister between 2003 and 2004.
In a radio interview earlier this week, Sheetrit said he was proud to have worked closely with Netanyahu to bring about a series of economic reforms, including a sweeping privatization reform. Peretz, a former head of the Histadrut labor union, is obviously against such economic policies.
If anything, Livni’s party appears so far to be made up of a mixture of people from different parties trying to hang on to their seats. The party will likely run its campaign based on the fact that it supports a two-state solution with the Palestinian Authority. However, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said he supports this solution as well, and Yechimovich has indicated that her views on this issue are similar to those of Netanyahu’s.