Israel's Labour party presents new list with fresh faces



Jerusalem: Israel's Labour party, largely seen to be on the path of resurgence after a dismal show in the last polls, has come out with a new list of newcomers and veterans dominated by dovish voices and social activists.

The Labour list is in stark opposition to the hawkish list elected this week by the ruling Likud party, setting the stage for a fiercely fought election campaign for the January 22 polls.

Some 60 per cent of the party's 60,424 members took advantage of their right to determine the face of what current polls forecast will be the Knesset's second-largest faction.

Veteran lawmakers Isaac Herzog and Amir Peretz took the top two spots on the slate, behind party leader Shelly Yachimovich, who was guaranteed the first spot.

But the list also included a relatively large number of new faces, including social protest leaders Stav Shaffir and Itzik Shmuli, who made it into the top 20.

Both the candidates became famous in the summer of 2011 as they led protest rallies and actions in Tel Aviv and elsewhere protesting Israel's widening income gap.

Reacting to the Labour list, Miri Regev of the ruling Likud party said on Israel Radio that the list "showed that Labour has taken a sharp turn to the left."

Yachimovich told the Army Radio that she had full confidence in the list, which she called a "dream team".

"This roster is no less than amazing. I couldn't have dreamed of a better lineup for the list, which constitutes a young, winning and promising leadership," the Labour Chairperson said after the results were announced.

"The UN vote on observer state status for the Palestinians is a political failure, and this is what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman bring with them. This is what happens when you don't take control over the process. The poverty report is another of Netanyahu's failures," she added.

The Labour party, reduced to a tally of mere 13 seats, in the last elections is credited with the nation building process in its previous avatar as the Mapai party.

It suffered another jolt when Defence Minister Ehud Barak walked out of the party with five lawmakers to form the Atzmaut party, reducing its tally to a historic low of just eight.

PTI