Zionist Union implosion continues

Senior MKs and party leader Avi Gabbay get into shouting match at party event as collapse in the polls continue. 'I'm not leaving my post'.

Tzvi Lev ,

Gabbay: 'I'll win'
Gabbay: 'I'll win'
Flash 90

The internal strife within the Zionist Union party shows not sign of letting up as recent polls show the faction sliding into the single digits.

On Thursday, a shouting match broke out between Zionist Union Chairman Avi Gabbay and MK Eitan Cabel at regarding the future of the faction. Cabel, a senior Zionist lawmaker, told Gabbay that his leadership is destroying the party.

"No one wants to get rid of you, no one wants to hurt you. We love this house. We all want you to succeed, but no one wants to be unemployed and not to do anything for the country" said Cabel.

Gabbay responded by defiantly stating that he had no intention to step down. "Let it be clear to everyone: I have no intention of leaving from here," Gabbay told Cabel. "No public pressure will work on me. The public's opinion doesn't influence me. I'm here and I'm not going anywhere."

"I've got a mandate to lead the party and I'll lead it, and I have received a full mandate from the public." "I apologize, but I hoped it would not be your answer," Cabel responded.

Gabbay went on to accuse Cabel of leaking reports of the Zionist Union's internal turmoil to the press and for giving the party a bad name. Gabbay alleged that Cabel was the source of a news story earlier this week reporting that Zionist Union members were calling him a "work accident" behind his back.

Once the largest party in the Knesset, Labor – which ran as the ‘Zionist Union’ joint list in conjunction with the Hatnua party in 2015 – has failed to win the premiership since Ehud Barak’s defeat of Binyamin Netanyahu in 1999.

The Zionist Union managed to win 24 seats three years ago, coming in second to the Likud’s 30 mandates.

Since then, however, the party has lost ground in nearly every poll. A Hadashot poll earlier this week showed the party gaining only 12 Knesset seats, a steep decline from its current 24.

The Zionist Union’s decline in the polls has left Avi Gabbay, a former Environmental Protection Minister for the Kulanu party in Netanyahu’s cabinet, facing growing criticism within his own party.

In September, multiple party lawmakers shed light on the escalating dissent within the party in an anonymous interview with Ma'ariv.

Gabbay, one Labor official - who previously backed the Labor chief - told Ma’ariv, is working to strip the party of its ideology, and turn the faction into a vessel for his own personal political ambitions; accusing him of “Kahlonization” – referring to Finance Minister and Kulanu chief Moshe Kahlon.

“He wants to change the character of the party; he wants to turn it from a democratic party with primaries into the second party of Kahlon, where the party chairman decides everything, like in Yesh Atid or Yisrael Beytenu.”

When veteran Labor MKs urged Gabbay to change his leadership style, warning that he was harming the party’s electoral prospects and his own political career, Gabbay reportedly lashed out.

“Make no mistake – I think you don’t understand – if I go down, I’m taking all of you with me.”

Party members who heard Gabbay’s comments claimed they were intended as a threat, saying they were reminiscent of a “mobster’s warnings, rather than the talk of a party chief.”