Labor MKs mum as party head acts against them

Labor Party chairman Avi Gabbay announced his intended changes for the party during Sunday’s Labor faction meeting at its Tel Aviv headquarters.

August 13, 2017 21:37
1 minute read.
Avi Gabbay, the leader of Israel's centre-left Labour party, delivers his victory speech after winni

Avi Gabbay, the leader of Israel's centre-left Labour party, delivers his victory speech after winning the Labour party primary runoff, at an event in Tel Aviv, Israel July 10, 2017.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

New Labor Party chairman Avi Gabbay intends to reserve two slots in Labor’s top 10 for candidates of his choosing who would not have to run in the party’s primary, Gabbay said in recent conversations with top party officials.

The officials said Gabbay also told them he wanted to change the party’s long-standing policies and have him decide on his own which MKs will serve on which committees in the Knesset.

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The moves are part of an effort by Gabbay to take control over the party, whose chairmanship he won on July 10. Officials who have spoken to him said the former businessman has expressed frustration over how little power the Labor chairmanship gives him to hire and fire party staff and to decide how to use the party’s budget.

“He wants to be like Yair Lapid and decide things by himself,” one of the MKs said.

Nevertheless, during Sunday’s Labor faction meeting at the party’s Tel Aviv headquarters, not one of the MKs complained about the changes.

Many of the MKs received a message on their phone regarding a Channel 10 report about the decisions during the meeting. They discussed the message among themselves but not with Gabbay.

“We were too busy speaking about what is going on with Netanyahu and the current political situation,” said an MK who attended the meeting. “It was important to discuss how we are handling what is going on politically right now.”

But all the moves Gabbay is considering must be passed in party institutions, and the MK said they would have plenty of time to block them later on. A date has not yet been set for the first Labor Party convention under the helm of Gabbay.

A spokeswoman for Gabbay said “we are currently not responding to that.”

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