Avi Gabbay speaking at the Labor headquartes in Tel Aviv alongside MKs Omer Bar-Lev and Stav Shaffir.
(photo credit: ELAD GUTMAN)
The Labor Party was predicted to receive six to eight seats in the next Knesset, according to exit polls published on Tuesday night.
The KAN 11 poll predicted eight seats for the party, Channel 13 predicted 7 and Channel 12 said Labor would receive 6 seats.
"This is not how I hoped this evening would end," party leader Avi Gabbay told activists at the party's headquarters just after midnight Wednesday morning. "The exit polls are a huge disappointment, it's an electoral blow."
Gabbay said he spoke earlier in the evening with Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, "and I hope he will be able to build a coalition." The party leader said that Labor tried to be as serious as possible, and present a clear, ideological plan to voters, "but the political reality went in a different direction."
These expected results will signify a significant drop from Labor’s presence in the 20th Knesset, where – together with Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua – it had 24 seats; 19 of those were Labor candidates. A finish of six seats would leave many sitting MKs outside of the Knesset, including Merav Michaeli, Omer Bar-Lev, Revital Swid, Haim Jelin, Michal Biran and Eitan Cabel.
Cabel, who has clashed with Gabbay repeatedly, slammed his party's leader on Tuesday night and called for him to resign.
"I have no words," Cabel said. "I've never seen such a lack of self awareness in my life."
Immediately after the exit polls were released, MK Shelly Yacimovich, fifth on the Labor list, said the outcome was extremely disappointing.
“This is the worst result in the history of the Labor Party, I’m in shock,” said Yacimovich, while close to tears, on Channel 12 News. “There’s no other way to look at it, this a result that is bad news for the Zionist Left... we have to remember, there is always room to improve, to conduct soul searching.”
Throughout the day, Gabbay tried to push back at the narrative that voters should go with Blue and White in order to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He said both Likud and Blue and White were “spreading a lie” that the largest party is what important: “The blocs are what matter,” he said. But at the end of the day, it appeared that left-wing voters left Labor in droves to vote for Blue and White.
While voting in Jerusalem on Tuesday morning with his mother, Sarah, Gabbay promised that the story of this Election Day would be about a resurgence of the Center-Left.
“More people will be like my mother today and vote for Labor for the first time,” he said. “We cannot win the election without shifting votes from the Right.”
Gabbay also urged voters to ignore the “political spin” of Blue and White leader Benny Gantz.
“No one ever regretted voting from their heart,” he added. “Go with your truth – your truth is Labor, so vote Labor. You believe in our values, in our ideological team, so vote Labor.”
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