There were further signs of a major rift in the opposition Sunday, as Yesh Atid slammed Zionist Camp for agreeing to participate in a Knesset event together with radical left groups B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence. Sponsoring the event, title “Children Under Occupation,” are MKs from United Arab List, Meretz, and Zionist Camp.
Yesh Atid chairperson MK Yair Lapid on Sunday said in a social media post that “Zionist Camp has lost it. They are joining with radical groups and political parties in an event that will bring Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, and other supporters of BDS to the Knesset. This is a gift to the enemies of Israel.”
In the invitation to MKs to participate in the event, the organizers – MKs Michal Rozin (Meretz), Ayman Oudeh (UAL), and Kessenia Svetlova (Zionist Camp) wrote that “51 years of occupation have left a whole generation of children without a future. The government has placed a smokescreen on the direct effects of the occupation on the civil population. Children from both sides of the conflict did not choose to be born into a blood-soaked reality, and we will not be able to offer them a better future without dialog.”
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein expressed his opposition to the event. “MKs from any party who want to run events in the Knesset open to outsiders must ask for permission, and that did not happen here. Instead, they hide their intentions by calling these mass events ‘meetings.’” Edelstein did not say if he would take any steps to halt the event.
Responding to Lapid’s comments, former Meretz head Zehava Gal-on said that she “understands that the polls have not been kind to him today. It’s good to know that there are Knesset members who deal with small events like the impact of Israel’s policies.”
Meanwhile, as the battle for chairperson of Zionist Camp heats up, MK Itzik Shmueli, a member of the party, said that it appeared that Tzippy Livni’s Hatnu’a would likely break away from the party, leaving Labor by itself. “The relations between Livni and Zionist Camp chairperson Avi Gabay are not good – you could even call them poisonous – and the cooperation between both factions has been bad as well. The only way to resolve the dilemma of who will chair the party is to repair relations between the factions.”
Last week Livni, head of the Hatnu’a party, formed from the ashes of the defunct Kadima party, demanded that she be named opposition head by Gabay. If he does not comply, Livni will take the eight MKs that are members of Zionist Camp and break up the party, she said at a meeting of the Zionist Camp faction Monday. Livni would replace Yitzchak Herzog, who left the job and the Knesset in order to head the Jewish Agency. The opposition leader is accorded special status in Knesset discussions, as he speaks after the Prime Minister during debates, and is generally considered the MK from the opposition most likely to be chosen to run against a sitting prime minister. He also receives increased security, and a ministerial-level vehicle, courtesy of the state.
Competing with Livni for the post are Labor MK Shelly Yechimovich as well as Amir Peretz, also a member of Hatnu’a. Commenting on the matter last week, Livni said that “in my eyes, the appointment to the position of opposition head is a requirement in order for us to continue our partnership. This can be a great opportunity for us to strengthen our partnership, and could be an important factor in decisions in the future.”