Large group of newer members clash with veteran core of founders.
By Zafrir Rinat | Dec.02, 2012

The Green Movement’s primary, held Friday morning, ended with accusations of voting irregularities by rival factions, raising concerns that the environmentalists would not be able to present a united front or declare a Knesset slate.

Hundreds of Green Movement activists had convened at the Kibbutzim College in Tel Aviv to vote for a new chair and party ticket to stand for the upcoming Knesset election in January.

It was hoped the slate would allow the party to reverse its failure to put a representative into the Knesset with the left-leaning Orthodox party Meimad, which it joined in the last election.

The Green Movement has sought to represent a deep commitment to clean politics, direct democracy and social justice. It had created a precedent by electing two cochairs, a man and a woman, as is the practice in the German Green Party.

However, Friday’s primary saw a clash between a large group of newcomers to the party and its veteran core of founders, resulting in accusations of irregularities in the election process.

Heading the group of newer members is Hadas Shachnai, who is a candidate for party chairwoman. She is supported by several representatives of environmentalist slates on various city councils, each of whom managed to conduct membership drives signing up a few hundred people, for a total of about 1,000 people.

As the primary drew closer, the veteran leadership increasingly accused the new group of “vote contracting” – claims that Shachnai and her supporters denied.

“They simply don’t understand what politics is and what it means when people support you and work for your election,” said Yifat Meirovitz Yefet, a Shachnai supporter and a member of the Rishon Letzion Municipality.

“There is a clash of two cultures here, and we will have to check whether there were irregularities,” Alon Tal, current chairman of the Green Movement and one of its founders, said.

Some party activists, looking for a bright side, said the accusations merely showed that, for the first time, the party leadership was worth fighting for. “This shows we are a vibrant movement, alive and kicking,” Shachnai said.

However, no one could say for sure whether the movement could either work together or join forces with another party, such as the new Hatnuah party founded by Tzipi Livni, whom the Green Movement leadership had planned to begin negotiations with this week.

The Green Movement spokesman released a statement yesterday explaining that due to suspicions about the propriety of a few dozen ballots, it had been decided to conduct a further examination of the voting process, and the party could therefore not yet publish its election results. The spokesman said the party’s tribunal would rule by Tuesday on whether the voting was valid.