As the political reality of being number three sinks in among Zionist Camp MKs, an all-out brawl broke out Monday night at a meeting of the party’s MKs. At the meeting, MK Erel Margalit continued demanding that the party hold primaries immediately instead of waiting the indefinite amount of time that current head Yitzchak Herzog appears prepared to wait.
“It’s the beginning of the nightlong knives,” said commentators on Israel Radio. “First it is Margalit, soon it will be Shelly Yachimovich and Amir Peretz who are waiting in the wings to get rid of Herzog.” With the latest polling results, the chances of that happening are ever-greater, said the commentator.
Margalit said over the weekend that he was considering running for leadership of the party. Margalit appealed to party head Yitzchak Herzog not to postpone primaries indefinitely, because “a party that is ‘frozen’ cannot lead the country. Please do not postpone the primaries for two years,” as reports said that he was considering doing.
In a new poll released over the weekend, Zionist Camp falls from its current 24 to 18 seats. As a result, the Yitzchak Herzog-led party becomes the third largest in the Knesset. Most of its seats go to Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid, which jumps eight seats, from 11 to 19, becoming the second largest party.
Emphasizing that point Monday night, Margalit, over the shouts and catcalls of Herzog supporters, demanded an immediate vote on setting new primaries. Shouting at party whip Eitan Cabel, who turned down his request, Margalit called him “a dictator who is turning us into easy pickings for Yair Lapid and Avigdor Liberman.” Taking up the fight against primaries was Tzippy Livni – to whom Margalit shouted that she should quiet down. “You are here as nothing more than a guest,” he shouted. “Be quiet, you have nothing to say here.”
Whatever emerges from this mess, said Israel Radio political commentator Chanan Kristal, it is the likely resignation – or eventual booting – of Livni from the party. “The cat is now out of the bag,” he said. “It’s clear that Livni will never be part of the top leadership of Labor or Zionist Camp, however they brand themselves. She is just too well-connected to the old-line Likud, but she can’t return there as long as Binyamin Netanyahu is running things. She may just be out of the picture this time around.”