Labor MK Nachman Shai said on Thursday that his party should consider the possibility of joining a Likud-led coalition in the next government.
“On the eve of the elections, we said that we will sit in the opposition,” Shai told Israel Radio, “and that was an important statement… Now we need to… look around us and see what is happening.”
His boss, party leader Shelly Yachimovich, vowed during the campaign to not join a coalition if Labor wasn’t leading it. She began to backtrack from her statements Wednesday, calling to work under Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid to form a blocking majority. Lapid quickly nixed the idea.
Shai rejected recent criticisms of Yachimovich expressed by fellow party members on the heels of the election results.
According to Shai, a year and a half ago, the Labor Party was on the verge of collapse. He credited Yachimovich with “returning the party to a primary position in the political elite and the leadership of the country.”
The party improved its position to 15 seats in voting Tuesday, becoming the third-largest faction in the Knesset but still a long way from the powerhouse the party once was.
Eitan Cabel, No. 3 on the party list, told Israel Radio on Wednesday morning that Yachimovich was responsible for the disappointing results.
Outgoing MK Daniel Ben Simon, who had the No. 22 slot on the list and therefore will not retain his Knesset seat, told Israel Radio on Wednesday afternoon that because Yachimovich ran a “personal campaign,” she also was obligated to reach “personal conclusions” about the results and should step down from the party leadership.
Shai, No. 14 on the party list, was elected to the previous Knesset on the Kadima ticket. In late October he defected from the floundering party and joined ranks with Labor. He acknowledged that while the election results did not match expectations, “we need to also see the incredible achievements of Shelly Yachimovich in the restoration of the Labor Party.”
However, he admitted, the party botched its chance to return to power.
“There were definitely mistakes, which we see based on the end results,” Shai said. “Our campaign was not a good one.” Pre-election polls gave Labor 17-19 seats.
Shai said there was a upside in the results of Tuesday’s national vote, which saw new party Yesh Atid take 19 seats.
“Let’s look at the the positive achievements,” said Shai. “Let’s look at the fact that thousands of young people see the political arena as a place where they can implement their beliefs and their ideas.”