Leftist MK: We need to bring back the centrist voters

MK Eitan Cabel slams colleagues for demanding PM Netnayahu resign, says they're causing people to huddle around Netanyahu.

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Eitan Cabel
Eitan Cabel
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MK Eitan Cabel (Zionist Union) spoke to Arutz Sheva about his leftist colleagues' insistence Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu resign from his position.

Cabel said he does not believe his colleagues demand is correct, but requested to first discuss his party's newly elected leader, Avi Gabbay.

"I don't think we can hand out marks," Cabel said. "It's way too early. We're not even at the beginning of the process. We're at a stage where he's looking around and trying to understand the significance of his new responsibility. It's a complicated process for a party as old as ours. We need to give him everything he needs."

"I believe the solution is not simply to wait for the messiah, and I was one of Gabbay's supporters. From my perspective, the issue is we've never looked inwards and examined our own beliefs about who we are and what our road is. We act as if we have to beat Meretz. I'm saying, people, we need to pull our nation to another road, something other than Meretz and Likud. It's harder, but if we don't do it, it'll never happen."

Cabel thinks the fact Gabbay is not an MK "has numerous advantages."

"Gabbay can work on preparing our party for the next election," Cabel explained.

Regarding the polls, Cabel said, "Before we talk about how many seats we'll get and how many Likud will get, we have to win the battle within our own voter pool. It's a big problem. The first step is to bring back the votes which went to Yesh Atid. Yesh Atid received those votes not because they did something heroic, but because our voters were disappointed in us. Our voters went to the party closest to us, Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid. It's not an easy thing to bring back votes. Afterwards, we'll work on winning Likud and bringing in votes from the moderate right."

Cabel also rejected the idea of combining Labor with Yesh Atid.

"The solution is not to combine with Lapid," he explained. "All of the analysts' projections are wrong, and they're the first ones to refuse to see reality. It's always important to see who's the one behind things, but more important than how a leader handles his party is how he handles himself. It's not simple. The Israeli public is watching and listening to the narrative."

When asked to explain how his belief that Netanyahu is practically the only option Israel has for Prime Minister fits with his attacks on Netanyahu, Cabel said, "I'm one of those who believes Netanyahu unites the left and the center. Maybe there will be someone more successful than him."

"I remember when Netanyahu first ran in 1996, everyone made fun of the furniture seller and claimed he wouldn't win - but he did. There were other leaders who were okay, and I want to remind you that if former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had not committed the same sins, he might still be Prime Minister today. As the Labor party, we have a long road ahead of us, and it doesn't depend on who our leader is, but on our ability to fight for our beliefs after so many years."

Olmert was initially given six years' prison in May 2014 for taking bribes in the early 2000s in connection with the construction of Jerusalem's massive Holyland residential complex, but the sentence was later reduced to 18 months.

Cabel also blames Labor for Netanyahu's popularity.

"Our narrative is driving people away," he explained. "The moderate right is bigger than the moderate left. That's a fact, and we need to fight for it. Even if Lapid wins the elections, it may not help us. He still has to make a coalition, and the moderate right is a larger bloc than ours."

"The people want peace and they want a two-state solution," he claimed. "They want a country which respects its traditions, and that's what we're lacking."

When asked why his party is demanding Netanyahu resign, Cabel insisted he himself opposed their demands, and cited a post he wrote on Friday.

"I think our goal needs to be filing an indictment. Netanyahu is still considered to be innocent. I don't want to deal with how many investigations there have been, and I don't want to quote what Netanyahu said about Olmert. I'm one of those who doesn't feel comfortable forcing Netanyahu to resign over procedural and legal issues, no matter what they are. I also don't like seeing our Prime Minister in this situation, if the accusations are true. It's not an easy feeling, we're all in this together, and we're all citizens of Israel - both right and left. So I want an indictment filed."

Does his party's push for Netanayhu's resignation cost the party internally?

"What they're doing is basically firing into an armored personal carrier. It makes the right wing huddle closer together. They're causing people who in certain circumstances might vote for the moderate left to huddle around Netanyahu and distance themselves from us. What my colleagues are demanding is causing a great deal of the public to gather around Netanyahu, and we're losing what we need in order to lead."

The suspicions against the Prime Minister stem from two ongoing investigations, dubbed the “1000” and “2000” cases. The investigation into the so-called “1000 scandal” began in December of 2016, and centers around claims the Prime Minister improperly received gifts from a number of wealthy businessmen.

The “2000 scandal” involves allegations the Prime Minister and Yediot Ahronot publisher Arnon “Nuni” Mozes conspired to soften the paper’s left-leaning anti-Netanyahu line in exchange for passage of legislation barring the free distribution of Israel Hayom, a rival paper that has cut into Yediot’s readership in recent years.