Labor MK: We'd dump 'dictator' Gabbay if we could

Following dissolution of Zionist Union, Labor MKs rip party chairman Avi Gabbay, accusing him of behaving 'like a dictator'.

David Rosenberg,

Avi Gabbay announces Zionist Union breakup
Avi Gabbay announces Zionist Union breakup
Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Labor Party chairman Avi Gabbay’s sudden announcement Tuesday morning that he was dissolving his party’s partnership with the Hatnuah faction and ending the Zionist Union joint list has drawn criticism from senior party members and some Labor MKs, some of whom accused Gabbay of treating the party ‘like a dictatorship’.

On Tuesday morning, Gabbay pulled Labor out of the Zionist Union, effectively ending the joint list formed ahead of the 2015 elections.

The Labor chief gave no prior warning of the move, and had not informed Hatnuah chairwoman Tzipi Livni prior to his announcement. Livni, who was caught unprepared by the announcement as she sat next to Gabbay, quickly left the room after Gabbay spoke, declining to offer a response.

Gabbay later defended the move during a meeting of Labor lawmakers, during which he attacked Livni’s behavior during her term as Leader of the Opposition.

“I had to take s*** from her the entire time from the moment she became [Opposition leader]. There wasn’t any partnership here, just damage. Whenever there was good news, she ran to the media. When times weren’t as good, she disappeared and left us all the work.”

While some Labor MKs backed the breakup, saying it would open the door to a new alliance between Labor and a larger party, several lawmakers from the left-wing party excoriated Gabbay’s handling of the split, Israel Hayom report Wednesday.

MK Eitan Cabel blasted Gabbay for publicly “shaming” Livni.

“I don’t want to talk about the shaming you did to Tzipi, without notifying her or us [ahead of time]. I just want to say that it was a mistake. You do what you want, without consulting others. What is this? Do you make the decisions for the rest of us? This party was founded long before you came along, Avi Gabbay. I grew up in this party all my life. This isn’t your private company. You aren’t alone here and you can’t do everything without consulting us.”

“This was an unfriendly move,” one senior Labor MK said. “You don’t do things like that. It’s complete elections madness. You can’t manage a democratic party… like a one-man dictatorship.”

The senior Labor MK added that feelings of dissent were so strong within his party that “if there were a legal and institutional way to throw Gabbay out and give the job to someone else, we would have done it a long time ago given what he’s done.”

“What [Gabbay] did is stupid. Most people in the party thing so, but are afraid to say it openly for fear that it will hurt the party, or that Gabbay will get revenge on them.”