More than 30 former senior officers in the Israel Defense Forces announced this week they were joining the Labor Party, a big win for its new chairman, Avi Gabbay, who has suffered criticism as his party has shrunk in the polls.
Gabbay, who took over in July, has striven to find retired defense officials whom he can put toward the top of his party’s slate for the next election.
According to one poll published in mid-January, Zionist Union, of which Labor is the main component, would fall to 14 seats in the next election from its current 24. According to the poll by the Panels Politics research firm for the daily Maariv, Yair Lapid’s centrist Yesh Atid party would come in first with 27 of the Knesset’s 120 seats, topping Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud at 22.
Among the 33 officers joining Labor are Brig. Gen. (ret.) Asaf Agmon, a former military attaché in Japan and South Korea, and two former air force attachés in the United States – Brig. Gen. (ret.) Yoram Agmon and Brig. Gen. (res.) Zvi Kanor.
“Sitting alongside me are defense experts who together have more than 1,000 years of accumulated experience,” Gabbay said at a press conference.
Netanyahu is “busy in legal consultations with his lawyers in the corruption, bribery, fraud and breach of trust affairs,” Gabbay added.
“The prime minister’s mind is preoccupied these days with a different war he is conducting against the rule of law, not with preventing the next war in Syria and Lebanon, or in Gaza.”
As the senior officers put it in a statement, “Today we are taking a stand on the most important front in Israel. We are leading commanders, with civilians behind us from different communities, so together we can provide Israel with a unifying, moral and experienced leadership.”
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