Labor chairwoman MK Shelly Yechimovich was able on Thursday evening to pass a series of proposed changes to the party’s constitution - but not before she was verbally attacked by Labor MKs who were opposed to the changes.
Yechimovich asked the Labor members to pass several amendments to the party’s constitution, including increasing the number of signatures required to gather the party conference, from 10% to 33%.
Her opponents, headed by MKs Eitan Cabel and Erel Margalit, argued that Yechimovich’s changes are dictatorial and that her amendments are reminiscent of the ones introduced by Ehud Barak when he headed the party.
Cabel and Margalit also said that now is not the time to be making constitutional changes but rather to discuss the party’s failure in the recent elections. Despite the fact that many polls predicted that Labor would be the Knesset’s second largest party, it only achieved 15 seats and is the Knesset’s third largest party, behind Yesh Atid. Many Labor members see Yechimovich as being directly responsible for this, blaming the failure on the fact that she headed a campaign which focused on socio-economic issues and mostly ignored diplomatic issues, such as the peace process with the Arabs.
Addressing the party conference, MK Cabel, who is already contemplating running against Yechimovich for the party’s leadership, said, "I had thought that a party conference, three months after the elections, should discuss the elections and not procedures. Let us join together now and decide that we will not discuss procedural matters today.”
MK Margalit was even more direct, telling the conference, "I expect the first post-election conference to focus first and foremost on why Labor failed in the elections, like any organization that fails in its mission.”
He added, “Anyone who goes to the opposition in order to be a social party must ask himself why he is going into the opposition. I want to go to into the opposition in order to come back from it and lead the country.”
Responding to the critics, Yechimovich said, “Leading the opposition is not a simple decision at all. You know that the finance portfolio is a very important portfolio, but it was clear that if we had taken it we would have become Netanyahu's contractors.”
“The nonsense being uttered by Netanyahu’s twins, Bennett and Lapid, only sharpens our ideology,” she charged, repeating recent criticisms of the newly appointed ministers. “They are all alike and only we are different and real. We are now getting younger versions of Netanyahu’s 2003 model and we will fight against it.”
Yechimovich concluded by saying once again that she would not rule out joining the coalition if a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority is reached.
"I repeat - when it comes to processes related to peace with our neighbors, we are not opposition,” she said. “Moreover, if we will be close to the signing of any arrangement, even an interim agreement, and if Bennett threatens to leave the coalition, we will reconsider joining the government. We will not let this dream pass without being partners in its realization. We will never allow it to dissolve because of us.”