‘‘Labor gave up its historic role as the leader of the peace movement,’’ he charged.
Yachimovich told the Yediot Ahronot newspaper website recently that Labor ‘‘is not a leftist party and never was. ... It strived for peace out of pragmatism and not out of some romantic dream of peace.’’
‘‘It is much harder to deal with the socio-economic agenda,’’ she added.
As a journalist, author and radio show host, Yachimovich made her name as a passionate advocate for the downtrodden. She has acknowledged voting in the past for Hadash, a party which has communist leanings. The daughter of Holocaust survivors from Poland, Yachimovich often invokes her working-class roots by mentioning that her father worked in construction. She has two children and lives in Tel Aviv.
In politics, she has been an energetic lawmaker, passing legislation on behalf of the poor and promoting woman’s rights. But it was the mass grassroots protests against Israel’s high cost of living that erupted in the summer of 2011, drawing hundreds of thousands into the streets, that provided her tail wind.
Taking aim at Netanyahu, she has depicted him as a cold capitalist out of touch with the average Israeli.
While the country has a per capita income approaching Western Europe's, the gaps between rich and poor are wide, and many people have trouble making ends meet. Few seem to have benefited from the country’s impressive economic growth while many have suffered from the erosion of social welfare safeguards.
Unlike Netanyahu, Yachimovich tends to favor a strong government safety net.
Netanyahu’s campaign has focused on how he has fought Palestinian militants and stood strong against Iran’s suspected nuclear program. But this week’s news that Israel’s 2012 national deficit ballooned to twice its initial projection, roughly $10.5 billion, played right into Yachimovich’s hands.
‘‘Netanyahu is leading the Israeli economy to total collapse,’’ she said. ‘‘Four more years with him, and the damage will be irreversible.’’