Labor elects Shmuly, Shaffir to top of list

The choice of Shmuly and Shaffir signaled a generational change in the ruling party and may have set them up as the main contestants in the next Labor leadership race.

February 11, 2019 22:28
Itzik Shmuli (L) and Stav Shaffir (R)

Itzik Shmuli (L) and Stav Shaffir (R). (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/COURTESY)


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The Labor Party elected the leaders of the 2011 socioeconomic protests, Itzik Shmuly and Stav Shaffir, to the top of the party’s list for the April 9 election in Monday’s primary, according to results.

The choice of Shmuly and Shaffir signaled a generational change in the former ruling party and may have set them up as the main contestants in the next Labor leadership race. According to party bylaws, a leadership race must be held within 14 months of losing a general election.

Labor leader Avi Gabbay will head the list. He received permission at last month’s Labor convention to give the second slot to a candidate of his choosing, but he had not decided as of Monday night whether to do that.

Gabbay called Shmuly to congratulate him.

"You proved we are fighters and we can't be beaten so fast," said Gabbay, who called the candidates who won the primary the best team any party can offer

The candidates who won the slots after Gabbay, his potential number two, Shmuly and Shaffir were former Labor leaders Shelly Yacimovich and Amir Peretz. They will be followed by MKs Omer Bar-Lev, Merav Michaeli and Revital Swid.

MK Eitan Cabel, who has been the strongest opposition to Gabbay, did not win a realistic slot and is unlikely to be in the next Knesset.

Cabel took to Twitter on Monday night, writing that he has no regrets.

"I regret nothing I have done and looking back would do it all again," he wrote, "I finish the day with my head held high and thank all those who gave me their trust."

Gabbay also has the right to select the party’s tenth candidate. The eleventh slot is reserved for Labor secretary-general Eran Hermoni.

Voting was extended by half an hour, due to lines at polling stations across the country. Some 34,000 Labor members cast ballots, for a 56% voter turnout that was not much below the Likud’s turnout in its primary last Tuesday.

One candidate who did surprisingly well was Yacimovich’s former political adviser Yair “Yaya” Fink, a religious Zionist whose parents are American immigrants to Israel.

Fink got the eighth most votes and could be in the top 10 if Gabbay does not keep his reserved slots, but if Gabbay uses them, he will only be 12th on the list.

MK Michal Biran was next on the list but could be moved up to a reserved slot for women.

The MKs who did not win realistic slots include Nachman Shai, Moshe Mizrachi, Yossi Yonah and Leah Fadida.

Rabbi Gilad Kariv and haredi (ultra-Orthodox) candidate Michal Chernovitsky also did not win realistic slots.  

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