The Labor Party Conference opened Sunday in Tel Aviv with boos and catcalls directed at party chairman Isaac Herzog, as the delegates were preparing to vote on a date for re-electing Herzog or picking the next chairman. Several delegates called on Herzog to “go home,” and some waved in front of him pictures of Prime Minister Netanyahu.
After the catcalls, Herzog decided to abandon his earlier plan to speak to the party conference, and the delegates entered the secret ballots phase right away. Party Secretary General MK Yehiel (Hilik) Bar yelled at the booing members that “anyone comparing the chairman to Putin better leave the party.” It was a reference to a photoshopped image of Herzog standing next to Edrogan and Putin that had been handed out by the chairman’s opponents earlier.
Meanwhile, herzog told reporters, “We expected an attempt to blow up the conference. I decided with Hilik that he lead a move to remove from the party anyone who resorts to violence at the conference. Trying to blow up the conference is an act of violence.”
Herzog was critical of MK Shelly Yachimovich, his predecessor at the party helm, who objected to pushing off the election. He blamed her and MK Erel Margalit of encouraging inappropriate behavior by delegates “with their violent and excitable style.” He noted a comparison Yachimovich had made last May between Herzog and a lapdog, as the chairman was being seduced by PM Netanyahu only to discover that he had been used all along as leverage to bring MK Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party into the coalition government.
Yachimovich said Herzog should man up and that he’d been using that dog reference more than 200 times since May, and should pick a new bone.
The delegates voted in a secret ballot on having the chairmanship election either in December 2016—as Yachimovich and Margalit want it, or in Juy 2017—Herzog’s preference.
In the end, the chairman’s position was accepted by a hefty majority of 750 to 402 votes, and the primaries in the Labor Party are officially postponed until July 2017.David Israel