Former prime minister and Labor chairman Ehud Barak and current party leader Avi Gabbay..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Labor leader Avi Gabbay’s plan to give his post new powers could be stopped due to a legal formality, party officials said Sunday.
Gabbay intends to convene Labor’s governing convention on September 14 to approve changes in the party’s constitution that would give him the right to select four candidates in realistic slots for the next Knesset, two of whom would be placed in the top 10 on the list. The new Labor leader also wants the right to choose Labor’s faction head, Knesset committee chairmen and which MKs will serve on each committee.
But attorney Daniel Cohen wrote the head of Labor’s law committee, former justice minister David Libai, Sunday, telling him that the proposal cannot be brought to a vote.
Cohen, who represents a group of former Labor officials, said the convention cannot meet, because it has been more than four years since its members were elected in September 2012. He said a new convention must be elected, which could take as few as 90 days but could end up taking more than a year.
“You cannot have that dead body vote to resuscitate itself and then make serious legal changes as a zombie,” Cohen said. “That is not democratic. Why is Avi Gabbay hurrying? What happened? It is Labor’s democracy that has kept the party alive.”
Cohen originally wrote Libai on Wednesday. He said that while he was waiting to hear back, Gabbay sent out invitations to the convention.
A spokeswoman for Gabbay said he was not worried that Cohen would succeed in derailing his plan.
But a Gabbay critic in the party said his only hope of passing it is to do it right away and if the vote gets delayed by an internal party election for the convention, he will fail.
Gabbay received key endorsements over the weekend from two powerful Labor Party officials, former chairman Isaac Herzog and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund head Dani Atar.
“Looking back, I can say that had I received more backing within the party and the faction and avoided internal fights, I could have devoted more time to attracting support from the general public and we would be in a different place today,” Herzog said in a speech at a cultural event in Ramat Gan on Saturday. “I think Gabbay needs to be given a chance.”