"Does the truth have no value?" asked Labor Party Chair Shelly Yachimovich
at a press conference Tuesday on the decision to cancel early elections and establish a wide unity government.
Yachimovich took the podium after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
and Kadima Party Chairman Shaul Mofaz
announced that Kadima would be joining the coalition. "Do you believe a single word they say?" Yachimovich asked.
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"In the past few days, we've witnessed the most ridiculous zig-zag ever seen in Israeli politics – this will be taught in universities," the Labor chair continued.
Yachimovich: Do you believe a word Mofaz says? (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Yachimovich said that she often spoke about politics with groups all over Israel, and especially enjoyed talking to high school seniors. "I try to show them that politics isn't ugly, that it's a tool to implement a world view. To have democracy, you need a political system and a parliament," Yachimovich said.
"Politics turns ugly only when it becomes opportunistic," she stressed. "Then it becomes contemptible. What can we say now? Does anyone believe anything Mofaz says? It affects us, too, because people can't tell the difference. This is destructive to democracy," she declared.
Netanyahu welcomes Mofaz into the coalition. (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
In addition to Mofaz himself, Yachimovich also had barbs for his party: "This entire term has been a farce of an opposition, and now Kadima
is going to pass destructive policy that is totally opposed to the cries we heard last summer."
"The 2013 state budget will be bitter, capitalistic, tough, and will increase the (socioeconomic) gaps in Israel. And the person responsible is the one who declared that he would lead the social struggle. From where? From Netanyahu's office? The dissonance between words and deeds knows no bounds."
Turning to Mofaz, Yachimovich said that, unlike him, she had never called Netanyahu a liar, and that when criticizing him she had always been respectful, despite the strong ideological polarization.
Nevertheless, she said, Netanyahu was a "right-wing extremist, a capitalist, an old-school Thatcherite."
"And that's what the debate is about – two ideologies: one social-democratic and one capitalistic and violent."
Furthermore, the Labor party chair said, Netanyahu and Mofaz' agreement ignored the voters. However, she pointed out that there could be a bright side for the Labor party,
which would come out of the deal "heading out on a new path."
"We have an opportunity," she said. "The public has trusted us again and voted for us, but now we see that we are the only party that presents an alternative to the Netanyahu government. Anyone who didn't want Labor with 20 mandates now will get it with many more at the end of the term."
Yachimovich said that while early elections were against Labor's plan, sometimes plans that don't work out present new opportunities. "The fact that I'll be a small opposition will help move Labor ahead to where it needs to be," the party chair said, adding that the role of the opposition was not only to pass legislation, but also to serve as an alternative. "It's not a shame, it's not a punishment, it's a great honor. As Begin said, it's possible to serve the people from the opposition," she explained.
Earlier, Meretz Chair Zehava Gal-On attacked the new coalition, saying that "if we thought a Netanyahu-Barak coalition was the most dangerous thing for Israel, this morning we realized that there's something more dangerous – a coalition of Netanyahu, Shaul (Mofaz) and Barak, who will sit together and wreck the country."
Gal-On called the new government one that would "chip away at the society: democracy, equality, social justice, and the norms of just government."