A day after criticizing Likud for choosing a largely far-right list of prospective Knesset members for the upcoming general elections in its primaries, Labor chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich on Tuesday admitted that she fears a similarly extremist slant to her party resulting from the Labor primaries on Thursday.
“It’s absurd, but I face a similar challenge to the one that [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu faced,” Yachimovich was quoted as saying at a parlor meeting with national-religious citizens on Tuesday afternoon. “Presumably, he, too, didn’t want certain people in his party.”
Netanyahu made no secret of his disappointment at the virtual ousting of moderate party veterans such as Dan Meridor, Benny Begin and Michael Eitan, and the rise of hardline right-wingers Moshe Feiglin and others, in Monday’s Likud primaries.
Yachimovich has tried to position Labor as center-left alternative to Likud in the elections, a move that could be jeopardized by the loss of certain longtime MKs. While Yachimovich did not name specific Labor candidates whom she would prefer not to see in high spots on the party list, she told those gathered at the parlor meeting on Tuesday that she hoped the primaries would establish a “balanced” list of candidates.
Yachimovich also appealed to the larger national-religious community, which once shared a political alliance with Labor but in recent decades has largely identified with the right wing in Israeli politics, saying, “For once, don’t vote on the borders of the state, but on what happens within those borders” and urging a focus on social welfare rather than diplomacy and security.