Labor to Lose Another MK

YERUSHALAYIM -
Labor party MK Itzik Shmuli. Behind him are the letters that appear on the Labor ballot. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The Labor party appeared to be losing another senior figure on Tuesday, as Labor, Social Services and Social Equality Minister Itzik Shmuli announced that he will not run in next Sunday’s leadership primary.

In an online message, Shmuli hinted that he’s leaving the party for a different slate. Sources close to him said he would soon make known his destination.

Labor Party chairman Amir Peretz has already said he won’t run and was leaving the party.

Former prime minister Ehud Barak wrote on social media Monday night that he is not accepting requests from Labor activists to run.

That leaves MK Merav Michaeli as the leading candidate to succeed Peretz. She is favored over advertising executive Gil Beilin, online casino millionaire Avi Shaked and activist David Landsman.

On the other side of the political divide, Yamina leader Naftali Bennett has won the support of the heads of Ani Shulman, an advocacy group for Israel’s self-employed.

Shulman head Abir Kara announced that he’ll run on Yamina’s list and called on all self-employed Israelis to vote Yamina.

“Only Bennett really cares about the economy, the self-employed and the state,” Kara said.

Ani Shulman was founded in 2019, and today claims to represent over 200,000 self-employed Israelis.

Kara reportedly turned down a slot on the Likud list before accepting Bennett’s offer. Bennett has been making the health and economic crises the central theme of his campaign, and recruiting Kara shows he’s making headway.