With only five weeks remaining before the national elections, Labor Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich has begun laying out her political agenda.
In an interview at Ynet on Monday, Yachimovich said she will support handing east Jerusalem neighborhoods over to a future Palestinian state, but stressed that the sizeable budget that sponsors the settlements in the West Bank will remain untouched.
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The Labor leader explained that while she is not a supporter of the settlements, so long as there is no peace agreement the residents who were sent there must not be compromised.
"You can't deal with the residents of settlements established legally and in accordane with government decisions as criminals," she said, noting that many of these decisions were sanctioned by the Labor Party. "You can't erase human beings. The government is responsible for caring for the children there."
Yachimovich at Ynet (Photo: Benny Deutsch)
Relaying her take on the two-state solution, Yachimovich said that "Most parties, even the Likud, are going in the direction of the 'Clinton Parameters' which center on the 1967 (borders) while maintaining the settlement blocs."
She said that Jerusalem – its Jewish neighborhoods and Arab neighborhoods – are to be discussed later in the talks.
According to Yachimovich, Labor "is not a leftist party and never was. It was a centrist party. It strived for peace out of pragmatism and not out of some romantic dream of peace. It has always consisted of hawks and doves. Former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was hawkish in his stance."
The party chairwoman explained that over the past few decades, leftist parties dealt "solely with the Palestinian issue while entirely forsaking Israeli society. It is much harder to deal with the socio-economic agenda.
"There is nothing easier than voicing a few political slogans a day in order to appeal to certain audiences. It is much more difficult to read the budget book from start to finish, and it is much more difficult to understand economics and society."
Yachimovich's detailed economic plan was shot down by critics, who said her call to expand social services did not make fiscal sense. Firing back, Yachimovich said that "whoever thinks that our economic plan is unrealistic, should present a different one."
"I want to see (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu's economic plan. There is nothing we mention that isn't covered by the budget. It is very detailed and very rational and was created with the help of economists. I want Netanyahu to say what budget cuts he is going to make after elections."
Outgoing Foreign Minister Lieberman (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
Yachimovich recently called outgoing Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who is facing fraud and breach of trust charges, "corrupt" and "dangerous."
In her interview Monday, the Labor leader declared that the likelihood that she would join a coalition that includes Lieberman is "virtually nil."
"I certainly won't join a government with a man who has been indicted. I will also fight for a trial and not a plea bargain."
The Likud "is pressured by Lieberman's resignation – that's clear. The investigator who courageously interrogated Lieberman is a true warrior of justice," she said, referring to Labor candidate Moshe Mizrahi.
"The Likud's insistence to immediately respond to the conference we are holding to promote the rule of law shows that ... the Likud is evidently not certain it will win."
Moran Azulay contributed to this report
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