Israel Election: After Split, Habayit Hayehudi Mulls Canceling Primary Election

Labor chief Avi Gabbay slams former partner Livni ■ Party members move to unseat Gabbay ■ Top Netanyahu challenger Gantz to deliver first campaign speech

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Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked speaks at a gathering of Knesset members, December 31, 2018.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked speaks at a gathering of Knesset members, December 31, 2018.Credit: Nir Keidar

Habayit Hayehudi officials mull cancelation of primary election

Following a dramatic split in the right-wing Habayit Hayehudi party with the departure of senior ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, party members are advancing a motion to cancel the primary election due to its high financial costs, estimated at several millions of shekels.

Habayit Hayehudi's central committee is due to vote on the cancelation during a convention in two weeks, ahead of the April 9 general election.

>> Read more: Abandoning a lasting brand, Bennett shows he's aiming for the Prime Minister's Office ■ Eyeing end of Netanyahu era, Bennett and Shaked are ditching the settlers

The proposal calls for the establishment of a 13-member public committee, comprising of members of the party's election committee, public figures, elected representatives and other representatives of the party's institutions. The committee, a third of which must be women, would then elect the party's new chairman.

Following the election of a chairman, the party's central committee would compose the party's list, ensuring a spot for a woman among the first three. (Yotam Berger)

Labor chief slams former partner Livni

Labor Party head Avi Gabbay said in an interview Thursday that Tzipi Livni, his former partner in the Zionist Union, refused to rule out joining a future coalition headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

On Tuesday Gabbay took Livni by suprise when he announced in a press conference Zionist Union's disbandment. Zionist Union, an alliance between Labor and Hatnuah formed in December 2014, had won 24 seats in the 2015 election but has tanked in recent polls to as low as nine seats ahead of the April 9 election.

>> Read more: After split With Labor, can Livni become an electoral asset again ■ Zionist Union split can only hurt the Israeli opposition  ■ Gabbay’s callous decapitation of Livni could pave the way for a new Israeli left

"I won't enter a government headed by Netanyahu because he doesn't want to make a change. And Tzipi isn't there. She wouldn't say those things. It's a big gap," Gabbay, who spoke with Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, said in the first public remarks following the break up.

Asked why he chose to break up the partnership in a public way, Gabbay said: "I grew up in the hood. And in the hood I learned that if they beat you up you hit back and don't run off to make peace." (Haaretz)

Party members move to oust Avi Gabbay

Labor Party members have begun collecting signatures with the goal of ousting party head Gabbay.

Sources in the party said that the move comes after Gabbay dismantled the Zionist Union. They added that Gabbay has turned his back on security and diplomatic issues and pointed to the party's drop in the polls.

A senior party member told Haaretz Livni is behind the attempts to unseat Gabbay.

Party member MK Eitan Cabel called on Gabbay to resign, saying that "in the business world he would have already handed over the keys." Cabel further warned that a "glorious movement" is in danger of vanishing. The Labor Party responded by saying that his "subversion is nothing new." (Jonathan Lis)

Gantz to deliver first campaign speech

Benny Gantz, a former military chief and the head of a new political party running in the upcoming election, is expected to deliver his first campaign speech next week on Thursday.

Gantz, the leader of the newly founded party Hosen L'Yisrael who is currently seen as Netanyahu's main rival, has kept silent about his plans and platform. In his speech he is expected to detail why he decided to run for Knesset as well as his agenda. (Chaim Levinson)