Sources: Herzog in Gov’t Means Split in Labor

Labor party MK Eitan Cabel (R) in whispered consultation with Isaac Herzog at a party meeting. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Israel Labor Party MK Eitan Cabel (R.) in whispered consultation with Yitzchak Herzog at a party meeting. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

If the negotiations between Binyamin Netanyahu and Yitzchak Herzog are successful, the government will be able to expand its numbers – but not by much, because the large majority of Labor’s 24 MKs will not be coming aboard with Herzog. In fact, political analysts count no more than 7 to 10 Zionist Camp Knesset members who will declare their decision to join the government.

What will happen to the rest is unclear; as chairman of the party, Herzog has the right to use the name “Zionist Camp,” so either one part of the party will join the government and the other won’t – or the MKs who remain outside will reformulate under a new name, possibly returning to the name Labor.

According to the NRG news site, Herzog can count on MKs Eitan Broshi, Chilik Bar, Ayelet Nachmias Warbin, Emanuel Trachtenberg and Eitan Cabel. To join the government, Herzog would have to call a meeting of the Labor Party Executive, and the estimation is that he will manage somehow to get his decision approved – but that will come at the cost of the unity of the party, a source in Zionist Camp told the site.

“The only chance Herzog has to bring in the majority of the party would be a reformulation of the entire coalition agreement – cutting out Jewish Home altogether. If he manages that, even the diehard opponents will join in. So far what we are hearing is much less than that – a few changes in laws here and there, but no redirection of policy.”

Even the MKs who are likely to go with Herzog are doing so with a heavy heart. Speaking on Army Radio Wednesday, Hilik Bar said that he was actually opposed to joining the government, “but if the decision is made to do so I will comply. If Herzog believes such a partnership can advance the goals of the party, we have all the right in the world to try this. I believe that Herzog would not do anything to harm the party or the state.”

Disagreeing with Bar on both points is Shelly Yachimovich, the Zionist Camp MK who has been among the most outspoken against joining the government. “Netanyahu called, and Herzog came running on all fours with a bone in his mouth,” she said. “Entry into the coalition now, under these conditions, would be nothing less than a traitorous act – traitorous to the voters who chose us over the Likud, when we said ‘It’s us or them,’ and against our values, which we believe can bring about true change in Israel. I will not sell out my values for a ministry,” she told Israel Radio. “Bad things will happen if Herzog tries to impose this on us. Of course I want to be a senior minister, and I will be a very good one, but not at any price.”