Labor chief Avi Gabbay drops out of primary race

Day after key ally Tal Russo announces retirement from politics, Labor party chairman Avi Gabbay drops out of leadership race.

David Rosenberg,

Avi Gabbay with Amir Peretz and Tal  Russo
Avi Gabbay with Amir Peretz and Tal Russo
Flash 90

Labor chairman Avi Gabbay will not seek to retain his position at the helm of the Labor party in next month’s primary race, Gabbay announced Tuesday.

“To my supporters, to my friends, to my partners, and to my dear loved-ones, I want to inform you that I will not be running for leadership of the party in the elections which will be held next month,” Gabby wrote on Facebook Tuesday at 11:00 a.m.

Gabbay said the decision was the next logical step following Labor’s poor showing in the April 9th elections, in which the party fell to just six seats, its weakest performance ever in an Israeli election.

“The direction was clear already on the night of the last election, but important decisions cannot be made in the heat of the moment, so I waited until things came to the fore in order to make my decision and announce it.”

The decision, which effectively ends Gabbay’s leadership of the Labor party after the July 2nd leadership primary, came a day after MK Tal Russo, number two on Labor’s Knesset slate and a key ally to Gabbay, told supporters he would retiring from politics.

“Friends, I went into politics four months ago with great plans to change the Labor party and the State of Israel, no less,” Russo, a general in the IDF reserves, wrote. “But given the circumstances we find ourselves – early elections and new primaries to choose the leader of the [Labor] party after such a short period of time – I won’t be able to do the things I had hoped. I don’t want to be part of the struggle over an inheritance [of the leadership of the party], so I remove my candidacy for control of the party and from the Knesset list for the 22nd Knesset.”

Russo announced his departure from politics less than a month and a half after he was sworn in as a member of the 21st Knesset – his first and only term in the Israeli legislature.