Labor loses its head again

Former environmental protection minister Avi Gabbay will face off in a runoff against MK Amir Peretz in a contest that is completely up for grabs.

July 4, 2017 22:45
1 minute read.
Isaac Herzog

Isaac Herzog. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

The Labor Party has made a habit of losing its head.

The victims have included Ehud Barak, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Amram Mitzna, Shimon Peres, Amir Peretz and Shelly Yacimovich. Now, Isaac Herzog shares their fate.

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Like other soon-to-be former Labor leaders, Herzog in recent weeks looked like a zombie in the corridors of the Knesset.

Two weeks ago, someone leaked to Channel 2 a photo-shopped poster of Herzog in drag that the Likud prepared and considered, but did not use during the 2015 election campaign.

Herzog posted the picture on social media alongside a poster of Yitzhak Rabin in a keffiyeh that besmirched the former prime minister ahead of his 1995 assassination.

After that, Herzog appeared to return to life. He performed well in a series of debates when the other candidates seemed, at times, to be ganging up on him.

But it was too little, too late.

Rabin won the first primary Labor ever held in 1992, surpassing the 40% of the vote needed to avoid a runoff race against Peres by only 46 votes.

Now that none of the seven candidates won 40% of the vote in Tuesday’s race, former environmental protection minister Avi Gabbay will face off Monday in a runoff against MK Amir Peretz in a contest that is completely up for grabs.

The interesting race pits a former Labor chairman (Peretz) who is backed by many current and former MKs against a candidate (Gabbay) who joined the party six months ago. It’s New Labor versus Old Labor, a millionaire against a public servant who has lived for decades in the same house in Sderot.

Despite Labor’s image as a party of Ashkenazim, it chose Peretz, who was born in Morocco and Gabbay, whose parents moved from there to Israel before he was born.

Both candidates are vigorously against joining Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and will do everything possible to bring him down as soon as possible.

That election will be fateful for the new leader of the Labor Party because he will get only one chance. The moment the votes are counted on Monday night and he is declared the winner, the countdown to yet another inevitable new leader begins.

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