The Labor Party postponed to Thursday an important party conference that had been scheduled to take place Wednesday, as rumors intensified around the possibility of Labor, Yesh Atid and/or Hatnua forming a center-left alliance ahead of the January 22 elections.
The deadline for registering election partnerships, and for turning in final lists of candidates, is Thursday at midnight.
However, Tzipi Livni’s new Hatnua faction issued a statement Wednesday afternoon denying that a possible alliance with Labor was in the works.
“This is more spin by the Labor Party,” the statement said. “Every discussion so far has indicated that Labor is not interested in running on a joint list with Hatnua, but just wants to recruit [Livni] as a player because of her electoral strength.”
Parties that enter election alliances, like Likud and Yisrael Beytenu did last month, agree to run on one list for electoral purposes, but such agreements are not formal mergers and the parties retain relative independence, though tethered by coalition agreements.
Labor MK Eitan Cabel said he didn’t know if the conference’s delay was due to partnership negotiations taking place between the parties or because of “technical” issues within the Labor Party.
“I am not sure that it’s related at all to the process of forming some kind of alliance between the Labor Party and a particular party, [such as] Lapid’s party or with Tzipi Livni,” Cabel told Army Radio on Wednesday morning.
Despite Hatnua’s statement, Amram Mitzna, the former Haifa mayor, MK and Labor Party head who recently announced he would join Livni’s party in the No. 2 position, said earlier on Wednesday that a center-left coalition could be the only way to topple the Netanyahu government by challenging the “demographics” that favor a right-wing coalition retaining power.
“If we can convince the Israeli public, which has lost hope and believes that nothing can change… [we] have a chance to replace the evil rule of Netanyahu,” Mitzna told Army Radio. He said the large percentage of potential voters who did not turn out for the last elections presented an opportunity, though the task would be “difficult and complex.”
The three center-left parties, Labor, Yesh Atid and Hatnua, all of whom have similar platforms in several respects, have been criticized by analysts in recent weeks for being unable to present a unified front against the stable Likud-Yisrael Beytenu-led right-wing bloc.
Livni on Wednesday also announced the addition of former Israel Police commander David Tzur to the party’s list. Tzur, 53, served as the Tel Aviv District police commander and as a Border Police commander.