Election Hon­ey­moon Over for La­bor Chair­man Avi Gab­bay

The Jewish Voice - - ISRAEL - By: An­drew Friedman

If Avi Gab­bay ever had a “hon­ey­moon” af­ter be­ing elected chair­man of the La­bor Party on July 10, the ro­mance came to an end Sunday. In a seven-page man­i­festo en­ti­tled “Tool­box for Vic­tory” the new party leader called for a se­ries of amend­ments to the party con­sti­tu­tion, in­clud­ing grant­ing the party chair­man the right to to choose a spot on the party’s election slate for the La­bor sec­re­tary gen­eral as well as the right to re­serve four spots on the party’s election list for po­lit­i­cal al­lies, in­clud­ing two in the top 10 spa­ces. The pro­posed amend­ment spec­i­fies that the chair­man’s can­di­dates to be slot­ted into the election list do not have to be mem­bers of the La­bor Party.

In a let­ter to La­bor Party mem­bers in­tro­duc­ing the pro­posed amend­ments, Gab­bay said the changes are nec­es­sary in or­der to sta­bi­lize the party and to counter long­stand­ing trends of in­fight­ing and in­sta­bil­ity that has de­fined La­bor for decades. Gab­bay noted that the party has failed re­peat­edly in re­cent decades at win­ning elec­tions, de­spite what he called a plu­ral­ity of “ex­cel­lent, eth­i­cal lead­ers pub­lic ser­vants, at the na­tional, lo­cal and com­mu­nity lev­els.” He said the party has so of­ten been pre­oc­cu­pied with nav­i­gat­ing in­ter­nal party ten­sions that is has lacked the abil­ity to “turn out­wards” and to ad­dress is­sues of na­tional con­cern to the gen­eral elec­torate.

In or­der to mount a se­ri­ous chal­lenge to Prime Min­is­ter Binyamin Ne­tanyahu and the Likud Party dur­ing Is­rael’s next gen­eral election, Gab­bay wrote, sched­uled to be held no later than Novem­ber, 2019, Gab­bay said his party must get its own fig­u­ra­tive house in or­der in or­der to be able to pro­ject a com­pelling mes­sage to voters.

Pre­dictably, re­ac­tion from veteran La­bor Party ac­tivists was fast in com­ing, and less than com­pli­men­tary. Gen­eral Sec­re­tary Eran Her­moni ac­cused Gab­bay of try­ing to turn La­bor into a “one-man party” and called on him to re­scind the amend­ment pro­pos­als.

“I call on the chair­man to act re­spon­si­bly and to re­frain from mak­ing dras­tic, uni­lat­eral and dra­co­nian sug­ges­tions that could cre­ate un­nec­es­sary ten­sions within the party for no rea­son,” Her­moni said.

Gab­bay’s sur­prise vic­tory over a field of six can­di­dates – in­clud­ing party heavy­weights Amir Peretz and then-chair­man Yitzhak Her­zog – sent shock­waves through the party, par­tic­u­larly amongst party veter­ans who viewed the for­mer chair­man of the Bezeq telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions con­glom­er­ate as an out­sider with no roots in party or history of left-of-cen­ter ac­tivism.

If Avi Gab­bay ever had a “hon­ey­moon” af­ter be­ing elected chair­man of the La­bor Party on July 10, the ro­mance came to an end Sunday. Photo Credit: Ei­tan El­hadez/TPS

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