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Why Israeli opposition leader shouldn't rejoice over convention victory

The victory of Labor Chair Isaac Herzog over the party primary date has little significance in terms of public support and his chances to become the next prime minister.
Israel's main opposition leader, Isaac Herzog, speaks during a news conference in Jerusalem May 18, 2016. REUTERS/Ammar Awad - RTSEU5S

When Chairman of the Labor Party Isaac “Buji” Herzog spoke at the Labor Party convention on July 31, he faced a chorus of dozens of party members chanting “Buji go home!” By then he already knew that despite the humiliation, he was assured a victory on his proposal to postpone the party’s primaries. Maybe that was why he didn’t look too worried. He even flashed a fighting spirit of his own, when he shouted back, “I will not allow a culture akin to La Familia [fan club of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team that is known for violent acts] in the Labor Party.” He made it quite clear that he has no plans to go anywhere. He would remain the leader of the Labor Party.

The party convention only took place after numerous delays. It was the first time that Herzog faced his rivals who want to depose him. According to the party’s constitution, internal elections for the position of party chairman were supposed to be held last May. But Herzog’s standing within the party had already suffered a severe blow, following his failed attempt to join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in May, so he tried to postpone his fate. Never for a moment did he plan to leave without a fight, or to put his head on the chopping block.

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