New Labor leader seeks sweeping powers

Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay does not have the power he wants in his new post.

August 20, 2017 12:49
2 minute read.
Avi Gabbay, the leader of Israel's centre-left Labour party, delivers his victory speech after winni

Avi Gabbay, the leader of Israel's centre-left Labour party, delivers his victory speech after winning the Labour party primary runoff, at an event in Tel Aviv, Israel July 10, 2017.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

New Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay announced on Sunday that he intends to seek increased power for his post ahead of the next general election, including the right to choose four of the party’s candidates for the next Knesset.

Gabbay, who was elected July 10, realized that the post does not give him the power to make key decisions or to allocate funds for initiatives that he believes are essential to prepare the party for the next race. At the next Labor convention, whose date has not yet been set, he will ask to receive some of the authority currently given to that party’s secretary-general, Eran Hermoni.

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“To win the next election, Labor must update the tools at its disposal and give its leadership the ability, the resources, and the authority necessary for the party,” Gabbay said. “These changes would give the party a significant boost in its goals of reaching out to the wider public and present a proper alternative.”

The most controversial change Gabbay intends to request is the right to select four candidates in realistic slots for the next Knesset, two of who would be placed in the top 10 on the list. Possible candidates for those slots include former prime minister Ehud Barak, former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon, and MK Tzipi Livni, who formed a joint list with Labor ahead of the last election called the Zionist Union.

Channel 10 reported Sunday night that Barak would turn down a reserved slot. Gabbay has repeatedly said he wants Livni to stay with Labor. But he has never said he would permit her to choose additional Knesset candidates as former Labor chairman Isaac Herzog did ahead of the last election.

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. Because he is not an MK, Gabbay has not had a role in how the faction is run in the parliament.

Other proposals by Gabbay include adding transparency over the party’s finances and extending the tenure of the party’s institutions. Not one Labor MK chose to challenge the new party chairman immediately, though privately some said he would have a difficult time passing the moves in party institutions.

Only Hermoni, whose reserved seventh slot on the Labor list would not be maintained according to the plan, lashed out at Gabbay. He called upon the Labor leader not to make such drastic changes and vowed to use party institutions to block them.

“Labor is a party that is open, vibrant, and democratic, with a system of checks and balances, and I will make sure it stays that way,” Hermoni said. “Changing Labor from a party of the masses to a one-man show will distance voters and the chances of winning the next general election.”

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