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Labor’s Mitzna Resigns

05 May 2003

By Yisrael Ne’eman

Labor party leader Amram Mitzna resigned yesterday.  Already the pundits are attributing his problems to Labor in fighting and demands for positions of power.  Daniel Ben Simon writing in the left wing Ha’aretz believes Labor has no ideology left, just party hacks.  There are plenty of hacks but Mitzna did push a very clear left wing position (so heartily endorsed by Ha’aretz) which was just as firmly rejected by the public in the last election.

Most people do relate to the party platform, especially politicians and even more so the Labor Knesset faction who quickly became another Meretz (left wing Zionist party) who itself lost four seats in the last elections and is down to six.  Yossi Sarid, the outgoing chairman lamented Mitzna’s resignation saying it is too bad he ran in the first place since he drained off several Knesset seats from Sarid’s own party because of Labor sharp left wing diversion.  Labor in turn lost many of its centrist seats to Shinui.

Mitzna’s personality is not that of a back slapping politician and he is more of an ideologue than most.  But he veered sharply to the left and proved so by refusing to join Sharon in a National Unity Government, preferring to see the far right wing National Religious Party and National Union – Israel Beitainu in power.  Apparently he hoped the situation would become so horrific on the diplomatic and economic front as to force his victory in the next (and possibly early) elections.

Mitzna’s position in favor of dealing with Yasir Arafat along with a unilateral withdrawal from major parts of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) are simply unacceptable in the era of continual wanton Palestinian terror.  Sarid explained his own election defeat as arising from Meretz not having fully rejected Arafat.  And Mitzna cannot figure it out?

Labor will choose a center left leader in the hope of regaining some popular support while its left wing may break off and go to Meretz.  None of this was unexpected and the party needs to be rehabilitated.  All this will take months.

Mitzna had his personal flaws not doubt and was an outsider dealing on a national level.  He reminded many of the great failings of Ehud Barak, both in the personal sense and on the diplomatic and security front with the Palestinians.

But the major reason Mitzna is out is because the center left wanted their party returned to them.