Avi Gabbay, the new leader of Israel's centre-left Labor party, delivers his victory speech after winning the Labor party primary runoff, at an event in Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)
Labor activists are expected to pass sweeping changes in the party’s constitution at a convention on Thursday that could make Avi Gabbay the strongest chairman in the storied history of his party and its forerunners.
The changes would give Gabbay the right to select four candidates in realistic slots for the next Knesset, two of whom would be placed in the top 10 on the list. The Labor leader also wants the right to choose the party’s faction head, Knesset committee chairmen, and which MKs will serve on each committee.
He also wants to gain more control over the party’s finances at the expense of Labor secretary- general Eren Hermoni.
Gabbay has backtracked on taking away a safe slot on the Knesset candidates list reserved for the secretary-general.
Hermoni and Gabbay were expected to continue negotiations until just ahead of the convention in an effort to reach compromises.
“He is willing to compromise but not at any price,” a source close to Hermoni said. “We need to ensure that there will be proper checks and balances to maintain us as a democratic party, unlike Yesh Atid.”
MK Amir Peretz, who lost to Gabbay in the July 10 Labor leadership race, could also end up challenging Gabbay’s plan at the convention. But Gabbay will be supported by former Labor leaders Isaac Herzog and Shelly Yacimovich and MK Eitan Cabel.
There is still a possibility that the convention could be canceled at the last moment.
Attorney Daniel Cohen has asked courts to cancel the event, because he and other Labor activists whom he represents believe Gabbay’s proposal cannot be brought to a vote.
Cohen said it has been more than four years since convention members were elected in September 2012, so their terms have expired. He said a new convention must be elected, which could take as few as 90 days but could end up taking more than a year.
“You cannot have that dead body vote to resuscitate itself and then make serious legal changes as a zombie,” Cohen said.
Meanwhile, Gabbay continues holding events every night to raise support for the party. He spoke to some 200 people at a gathering in Jerusalem on Tuesday night. Gabbay expressed confidence at the event that the convention would take place and that he would emerge victorious.