Elections 2015

Herzog promises political ‘revolution’ as he launches ‘Zionist Camp’ campaign

At post-primary event for merged Labor-Hatnua, party leader accuses Netanyahu of inaction and a lack of sympathy for Israelis

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Labor party leader Isaac Herzog and Hatnua leader Tzipi Livni at a Labor party event in Shefayim, January 14, 2015. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Labor party leader Isaac Herzog and Hatnua leader Tzipi Livni at a Labor party event in Shefayim, January 14, 2015. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Addressing a vocal crowd of activists and supporters, Isaac Herzog, the leader of the Labor-Hatnua party, on Wednesday evening touted the newly elected lineup of his party as “the future leaders of Israel.”

“I’ve never been prouder than I am today,” he said at a party event in Kibbutz Shefayim, north of Tel Aviv, calling the slate “dynamic, rich in action and experience, full of faith, sensitivity and determination, the likes of which I don’t recall in my many years in the Labor party.”

The joint Labor-Hatnua list will be officially dubbed the “Zionist Camp.”

Herzog added that the list represented all of Israel’s communities, and that it was free of corruption. He went on to promise a “revolution” which he said “can’t be stopped.” It “will spread in the hearts of all Israelis,” he said.

Herzog unleashed a thinly veiled attack on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. On foreign policy, he said, Israel “must move closer to its partners. Israel is stronger when it is united with the world, and not alone. Israel is stronger when it is coordinated with America, and doesn’t act alone.”

Turning to social issues, Herzog said, “Some will say we are naive,” hinting at Netanyahu. “He simply doesn’t take us into account. But in the exact same way, he also doesn’t take you into account, citizens of the state. He says that the struggle against terror and the focus on security take precedence over narrowing the [economic] gaps, that there is no time or money to deal with the daily problems. This is a lie, pathetic excuses for lack of action and lack of sympathy,” he added, accusing Netanyahu of “placing the welfare of the citizens and the country last.”

Hatnua leader Tzipi Livni, guaranteed the number two spot on the Zionist Camp list, spoke after Herzog, saying she knew he would be the next prime minister of Israel, “because he cares about the country, he knows how to lead, he has the vision and the internal strength to unite. Together we will lead Israel.”

Channel 2 reported that the Zionist Camp will announce a candidate with a strong security background in the coming days. The joint list has been polling at 23-25 seats with just over two months remaining before the March 17 elections.

Nearly 29,000 registered Labor Party members, close to 59 percent of eligible voters, chose the party’s Knesset list Tuesday in polling stations throughout the country.

Former Labor Party chief Shelly Yachimovich garnered enough of the 29,000 votes cast on to occupy the first free spot on the party list, behind Herzog and Livni.

Despite her loss to Herzog in the 2013 primaries, Yachimovich had expressed complete support for the party’s leader in recent months and backed his decision to merge with Hatnua.

Eitan Cabel, who was expected to battle Yachimovich for the third slot, came in sixth place, shunting him to the 10th spot on the joint list.

Women will occupy three of the top five spots, with rising star Stav Shaffir taking the fourth slot. MK Itzik Shmuli will receive the fifth spot. Both were leading figures in 2011’s social justice protests in Tel Aviv.

Thirty-six candidates ran in the primaries, but in accordance with the deal reached between party chairman Herzog and Hatnua leader Livni, five seats were reserved for Hatnua members, making the competition for the remaining seats fierce.

Itamar Sharon contributed to this report.

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