Labor Party unanimously okays merger, PM rotation with Livni
Hatnua will receive six slots in top 25 of joint slate; five high seats to be reserved for female candidates
Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.
The Labor Party voted unanimously in favor of merging with Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua party Sunday evening, sealing the deal for a rotation premiership in a bid to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a large center-left bloc.
Livni and Herzog announced the merger on Wednesday, and said the two will share the prime ministership on rotation, with Herzog as prime minister the first two years and Livni the last two years, should they win the upcoming elections.
Speaking at a faction meeting on Sunday evening, Herzog hailed the union.
“I have known Tzipi Livni for years,” he said. “We have behind us hours of discussions and decision-making on the most important and sensitive issues. I know her talents and abilities, and I can tell you — Tzipi Livni and I will lead Israel, with our joint leadership, to a better future.”
The deal was also hailed by Labor MK Shelly Yachimovich, who said that, despite her reservations on the rotation system, “the pros outweigh the cons.”
Yachimovich, who led Labor into the last elections, when it won 15 seats, termed the arrangement “pragmatic and realistic” and said that the concession was necessary for the good of the country.
According to the agreement, Livni will be listed as No. 2 on the joint slate, behind Herzog. Slots No. 8, 16, 21, 24 and 25 will be reserved for Hatnua members, and slot No. 11 will be saved for Kadima’s Shaul Mofaz, should he choose to join the faction. Labor MK Hilik Bar, the party’s secretary general, will receive slot No. 7.
Under the terms of the deal, slots No. 5, 9, 14, 19 and 22 in the joint slate are saved for female candidates.
The Labor Party was also set Sunday to pick a date for party primaries, as well as release the joint faction’s new name.
A Channel 2 poll after the merger announcement indicated that the joint list was projected to become the largest faction in the Knesset, earning 20 percent of the vote.
The survey found that the Labor-Hatnua joint list would win 24 seats, putting it ahead of Netanyahu’s Likud party by a single seat.
Asked who they would rather have as prime minister, 36% of respondents answered Netanyahu, while Herzog and Livni trailed by three points. The remaining 31% of respondents either did not know who they preferred, or refused to answer.
Ilan Ben Zion contributed to this report.