One day after Labor leader Avi Gabbay revealed that he is not running for reelection in the July 2 Labor leadership race, he further announced on Wednesday that he is quitting politics altogether.
Despite being wealthy from his business career, Gabbay is expected to remain an MK and continue to earn a salary during the Knesset’s four-month recess for elections.
Gabbay’s name was second on the list of candidates in a proposal approved by Labor’s executive committee to keep the party’s current slate for the September 17 general election. Had the proposal been approved, he would have been an MK in the next Knesset.
He explained his decision to not run again by saying that he did not want to be perceived as undermining, as was done to him.
“One of the problems with the culture in our party is that former party chairmen remain on our list,” he said. “In the world outside of politics, when a director-general finishes his job, he moves on and does not become subordinate to someone who was under him before. I had four former chairmen under me, which naturally leads to personal problems, and I did not want to continue that phenomenon.”
Labor MK Itzik Shmuli announced on Wednesday that he is running in the July 2 leadership race. Shmuli won the most votes by far in the last primary for Labor’s Knesset list, making him the leading candidate in the contest to replace Gabbay.
“There is an opportunity for a restart, for change, for growth, to return Labor to be a relevant and influential force again in the country,” Shmuli said in a video he posted on social media.
“I realize it will be a huge challenge ahead, but I know I can do it for the party and especially the country,” he said. “Together, we will bring life back to the party.”
Shmuli’s campaign slogan will be “Shmuli: Believing in Labor.”
Labor MKs Stav Shaffir and Amir Peretz have also announced their candidacies. Other possible candidates include former prime minister Ehud Barak, former IDF chief of staff Yair Golan, and former MKs Eitan Cabel, Danny Yatom and Danny Atar.
The party will hold a vote by Internet by next Wednesday to determine whether the race for Labor leader will be decided by some 60,000 Labor members or some 3,000 activists eligible to vote in the party’s next convention. The party members will also vote by Internet on whether to keep the current Labor slate for the September 17 election or elect a new list by the membership or at the convention.