Labor Party Chair Avi Gabbay.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Labor leader Avi Gabbay, who broke up his Zionist Union alliance with Hatnua head Tzipi Livni, faced increasing attempts on Thursday to topple him ahead of the April 9 election.
MKs Eitan Cabel, Yossi Yona and Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin openly called for Gabbay to be replaced. Party activists close to them even began drafting the signatures necessary for a party convention that would vote on the move.
This is not the first time Labor activists tried to replace their leader so close to an election. In 2001, ahead of a doomed race against Ariel Sharon, Labor activists started the “Let Peres Win” campaign to replace then-prime minister and Labor leader Ehud Barak with Shimon Peres as the party’s candidate for prime minister.
KAN news reported that MK Amir Peretz, who lost the July 2017 election for Labor leader to Gabbay, was being wooed to replace Gabbay now but that he had rejected the overtures.
“Gabbay should draw conclusions” that he will not be the candidate against Netanyahu in the election, said Yona, adding that if he was Gabbay, he would have quit already.
Nahmias-Verbin said, “Personally I believe he needs to be replaced” and take responsibility for the state of the party in the polls, which predicts only seven to nine seats for Labor.
“In the business world he knows so well, he would have returned the keys or been fired a long time ago,” Cabel said. “We can’t let the Labor party perish.”
Labor released a statement in response, attacking Cabel. “His subversiveness is nothing new,” the statement said. “Cabel is the king of yes-and-no waffling; one thing and its opposite, and then the opposite of the opposite.”
Former prime minister Ehud Barak defended Gabbay on Thursday, but he also said the potential leaders of the Center-Left camp must join together to pick a candidate who could beat Netanyahu. He noticeably left former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi off that list.
“There are reasons he is hesitating and not entering politics,” Barak said.
Israel Hayom quoted Ashkenazi telling political figures in closed conversations that if he enters politics, it would be with Likud. Ashkenazi has not confirmed the report.
Meanwhile, an interview from February with former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz with the show Anashim (People) was unearthed on Thursday.
“I don’t threaten anyone, but it could be that there are those who feel threatened. But I don’t threaten anyone,” Gantz said in the interview
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