Avi Gabbay
Avi GabbayFLASH90

On Tuesday, Labor party head Avi Gabbay said in an interview that he opposed evicting Judea and Samaria residents from their homes in the event of a future peace deal with the Palestinian Authority. "I think the dynamic and terminology that we’ve become accustomed to — that if you reach a peace treaty, then you evacuate, is not necessarily correct. If you reach a peace deal, you can find solutions that don’t require evacuations," he told Channel 2.

Gabbay's remarks caused a storm in the historically left-wing Labor party, with MK Tzipi Livni saying that "I am making it clear that Gabbay's statement that he will not evacuate settlements as part of a peace agreement is the position of the Labor chairman alone.”

However, some prominent members of the Labor party have come out in support of Gabbay. "I want to tell all my friends in Labor and the Zionist Union - you have forgotten your roots. Avi Gabbay represents the real labor movement," said Jordan Valley Regional Council head David Elhiyani, who represents many towns that were founded by the Labor party.

"The Labor party built the majority of settlements, including Elon Moreh and the villages in the Jordan Valley yet today they are denying this part of history," he continued. "Yitzhak Rabin himself said from the Knesset rostrum that he wished that there would be more settlement blocs like in Gaza. The Labor party's position is not to evacuate settlements".

Elhiyani contended that radical leftists have taken over his Labor party. "They went more Left-wing and these are people who don't know the outlook of Mapai (the historical Labor party)," he said. "Who is in the Labor party today? Stav Shaffir and Tzippy Livni, who represent positions held by Meretz. I recently told a Labor party veteran that they stole the party from us and he agreed with me. Only the voters can put an end to it."

Labor Party MK Eitan Broshi expressed similar sentiments to Arutz Sheva on Tuesday. According to Broshi, a former Secretary-General of the Kibbutz Movement, "Gabbay is leading us to a better place, more to the center and not towards being Meretz B. We have members who are more like Meretz and I think they should consider their place within the party."

"We see great importance in the settlement enterprise, as the ones who established communities in the Golan Heights, in the Jordan Valley, in the northern Dead Sea, in Gush Etzion and other places," Broshi continued.

"We see the importance in preserving the settlement enterprise, but the debate is not about whether we are evicting or not, but rather about whether we are striving towards a binational state or a compromise centered on concessions of parts of the homeland."

Broshi's statements echoed remarks he made in 2016 criticizing his own party, suggesting that center-left supporters of the party may have to abandon the traditional standard-bearer of the Israeli left, the Labor Party, in favor of a faction more in tune with the Zionist ethos.

“There are post-Zionist elements [in the party],” Broshi had said during a meeting of Kibbutz members. "There are elements within Labor and Meretz that are against settlement [of the Land of Israel] and post-Zionists. We cannot accept that. We were the symbol, the emblem and they were the political home and base."