Labor announces leadership primary for July 3
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Labor announces leadership primary for July 3

Opposition party heats up with at least six men expected to challenge Isaac Herzog for top position

Leader of the Israeli Labor party Isaac Herzog attends the Labour party conference held in Tel Aviv on December 11, 2016. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Leader of the Israeli Labor party Isaac Herzog attends the Labour party conference held in Tel Aviv on December 11, 2016. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The Labor Party announced that the party’s leadership primaries will be held on July 3 in what is shaping up to be an acrimonious contest with candidates already maneuvering and jostling for an advantage.

The move pushes the troubled main opposition party, which hasn’t won an election in 18 years, into a fierce contest, with at least seven candidates expected to run.

If no candidate passes the 40 percent threshold, a second-round vote would be held on July 13.

Among those who have indicated they will run against MK Isaac Herzog are former high-tech entrepreneur MK Erel Margalit, former party leader MK Amir Peretz, former head of the elite IDF unit Sayeret Matkal MK Omer Barlev, former environmental protection minister Avi Gabbay, MK Eitan Cabel and activist-journalist Eldad Yaniv.

The sudden announcement may be an attempt to hurt the chances of outsiders Margalit, Yaniv and former Kulanu member Gabbay, who only joined the party in late December.

They are all working actively to draft new party members for their campaign. The announcement closed the voter list of eligible primary voters and anyone who wasn’t registered as a party member by February 28 will now not be able to vote in the primary race.

Herzog, who has led the party since 2013, said “I will run in the primaries, and I intend to win.”

Zionist Union party chair Isaac Herzog (C) with MK Amir Peretz (2L), MK Hilik Bar (L), MK Eitan Cabel (R) and MK Merav Michaeli (2R) during a press conference welcoming Peretz back to the Labor party, February 8, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Zionist Union party chair Isaac Herzog (C) with MK Amir Peretz (2L), MK Hilik Bar (L), MK Eitan Cabel (R) and MK Merav Michaeli (2R) during a press conference welcoming Peretz back to the Labor party, February 8, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Peretz welcomed the announcement.

“I believe in the wisdom of the masses, and I’m convinced I’ll win and lead the Labor Party to victory in the elections and replace [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu,” said the lawmaker, who was party leader from 2005 to 2007.

Margalit is also looking forward to the contest.

“The time has come to restart the Labor [Party], and for a return to national leadership,” he said in a statement.

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