Ex-minister Gabbay joins Labor, sparking leadership run rumors

The ex-minister's announcement came days before the deadline for potential candidates in July’s Labor leadership primary to join the party.

December 29, 2016 12:50
2 minute read.
Avi Gabai

Avi Gabai. (photo credit: AVI OHAYON - GPO)

Former Kulanu minister Avi Gabbay announced that he joined the Labor Party on Thursday, inviting others to follow suit on his new website.

The ex-minister’s announcement came days before the deadline for potential candidates in July’s Labor leadership primary to join the party.

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“I joined the Labor Party to put the country back on track,” Gabbay’s website reads. “In order to lead, one must have a vision. In order to influence, one must aim high.”

Further fueling rumors that he will run for Labor leader next year, Gabbay wrote that he’s aware the party’s image has suffered blows, “but that’s the challenge, and I love challenges.”

Gabbay resigned from his post as environmental protection minister earlier this year after Yisrael Beytenu joined the coalition, Avigdor Liberman was named defense minister and former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon resigned.

Gabbay said the government is endangering national security, fostering extremism and damaging relations with the US.

“Every day since I resigned, I asked myself if I should have resigned,” Gabbay said on his site. “Not only have I not changed my mind, but since then, and every day anew, more and more see that [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and the government he leads have lost their direction. They lost it.”

Gabbay argued that he did not have enough political clout while he was in the cabinet, just as he could not stop the government’s natural gas plan as the only minister who voted against it.

The former minister also made a dig at Kulanu chairman Moshe Kahlon, writing that: “I am not suited for parties of ‘one voice,’ in which one person decides on his own how to vote and what its positions are” and “I cannot be part of a political home that could strengthen Netanyahu, because Netanyahu must be replaced.”

Gabbay’s potential rivals for Labor’s leadership applauded his joining the party.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) congratulated and welcomed Gabbay, saying his joining is “good news, and I call on other good, honest people who want a change to join us and continue building and broadening the only alternative to this government.”

MK Erel Margalit (Zionist Union) praised Gabbay, saying, “Instead of crawling into Netanyahu’s government, he knew how to get out and stand up for his principles. Those are the kinds of people we need in the party.”

Zionist Union MK Shelly Yacimovich said that Gabbay’s decision made her very happy, and that he is worthy and talented.

MK Amir Peretz (Zionist Union) called Gabbay “a friend and a first-rate public figure with values, integrity and courage. Avi, joining the Labor Party is the right step, and it is important that you strengthen us in our battle.”

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