(photo credit: FACEBOOK)
Labor leader Avi Gabbay rid himself of three of his critics in the party Wendesday when MKs Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin, Hilik Bar and Eitan Broshi announced Wednesday that they wouldl not be running in the February 11 Labor primary ahead of the April 9 election for the next Knesset.
Thursday is the deadline to pay an NIS 10,000 fee to the party and join the race. More current Labor MKs are expected to announce that they will not run in the party that won 24 seats as part of the Zionist Union and is predicted by polls to win only eight or nine seats. MK Mickey Rosenthal announced last week that he was not running.
Nahmias-Verbin strongly opposed decision to end the Zionist Union partnership with Hatnua head Tzipi Livni.
She had called for Gabbay to stand aside and let a candidate who could defeat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu head a bloc.
After losing her effort to prevent Gabbay from reserving slots on the Labor list for candidates of his choice, there was little chance she would get re-elected, especially with Gabbay working against her.
"I started working in politics when I was 20-years-old and I will continue to work in politics
," she wrote her supporters. "Despite the great support I receive, my home is not the same home it was before."
She said Gabbay's decision to break up the Zionist Union was "the straw that broke the camel's back" and a "strategic mistake that will cause great harm to chances to replace the government."
A former aide to then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, Nahmias-Verbin supported incumbent Isaac Herzog in the July 2017 Labor race that was won by Gabbay.
She won the Outstanding Parliamentarian Award from the Israel Democracy Institute in 2016. Her perfect English helped her defend Israel in international events for parliament members around the world and she was a frequent speaker to groups that visited the Knesset from the United States. MKs from three parties released statements expressing regret about Nahmias-Verbin's departure, including New Right leader Naftali Bennett.
"She was a terrific MK with values and energy who took every opportunity to help the citizens of Israel," MK Stav Shaffir said. "The Kneset will miss her and her concern for people, the party and the state."
Bar, who headed the Knesset caucus for two states for two peoples, was also active in defending Israel around the world, including a recent visit to China that angered Gabbay. He was secretary-general of the party and helped heal it from its bankruptcy following the departure of former leader Ehud Barak.
Both Bar and Broshi cited health reasons for their departure. Bar was recently hospitalized.
Gabbay suspended Broshi from the party and urged him to quit the Knesset in July after a woman wrote him that Broshi sexually assaulted her in an elevator 15 years ago. Broshi denied that the incident took place and sued Gabbay for libel.
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