Analysis: Israeli politics ready to be flushed

Gabbay could have ended the partnership like a gentleman, behind closed doors and with a terse message sent to the press. But that is not what Gabbay was after.

January 1, 2019 18:12
1 minute read.
Analysis: Israeli politics ready to be flushed

Israeli politician Tzipi Livni . (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)


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The only one who was in a good mood at Tuesday’s final Zionist Union faction meeting was party leader Avi Gabbay.

He hid the reason for the meeting from his MKs, made sure opposition leader Tzipi Livni was sitting next to him as he spoke and delivered his bombshell: a divorce on live TV. A slap in the face so painful that the shocked MKs around the table could not believe what they were seeing.

Gabbay could have ended the partnership like a gentleman, behind closed doors and with a terse message sent to the press. But that is not what the party’s leader was after.

The MKs said that Gabbay made it clear to them that what he was really after was revenge. He had been insulted by how Livni behaved toward him in recent months, especially since he gave her the post of opposition leader.

She never praised him in public. She never built him up as a serious candidate for prime minister. She made him feel small.

Now – just like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did when he towered over then-Labor leader Isaac Herzog from a large screen when they were interviewed together three days before the 2015 election – Gabbay made Livni feel small.

Only when the doors were closed and the press was kicked out did Gabbay say what was truly on his mind: Livni had made him “eat shit.” Such vulgarity is reserved for those who have given up on politely resolving their disputes.

He had already failed to bring Labor into a larger bloc. So Gabbay, the successful businessman, decided on the opposite strategy of downsizing.

Labor members noticed that the party’s regional diplomatic plan in two weeks was not due to feature the experienced stateswoman Livni, but rather Gabbay and MK Itzik Shmuli.

Livni was getting in the way of using the strategy Gabbay wanted for the campaign: to focus it entirely on himself, using his rags-to-riches story to sell the party’s success story to voters.

That will be Labor’s focus from now on, and any MKs who have a problem with that will be shown the door.

Or, to continue with Gabbay’s terminology – flushed down the toilet.

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