Political newcomer Avi Gabbay has been elected to lead Israel’s opposition Labor party after winning Monday’s vote. He won 52 percent of the vote to beat Amir Peretz, a former party leader and defense minister.
Addressing his supporters after his election, Gabbay said, “To anyone who doubted the vitality of Israeli democracy, to anyone who eulogized the Labour Party, this night is their answer. Tomorrow, on Tuesday, the journey toward the election to change the Israeli government begins.”
His defeated opponent Peretz called the new leader a “key partner in the mission to replace the Netanyahu government” and vowed to support him.
Tzipi Livni, who leads the Hatnuah party that works together in a coalition under the Zionist Union banner with Labor, said, “Our shared mission is now to foster a new hope for replacing the government and offering a new way, a better way for Israel and its citizens.” She also said that the Zionist Union will need to expand in order to replace the Netanyahu-led government.
Gabbay ran the Bezeq telecommunications company until 2013 and has never been a Knesset member. He only joined Labor in December, having previously helped to found the centrist Kulanu party. As he is not an MK, Gabbay has asked outgoing leader Isaac Herzog to continue to serve as chairman of the opposition party in the Knesset.
Gabbay won 16,080 votes, and Amir Peretz won 14,734, with 59 percent of the party’s 52,000 members voting in the second round election.
[Photo: BICOM ]