Labor Party Chief: Uniting With Meretz Won't Help Us Topple Netanyahu

Citing 'ideological differences' with Meretz, Avi Gabbay says Labor is the only alternative to Netanyahu ■ Meretz head Zandberg: 'Confident and clear left is only alternative to extreme and racist right'

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Head of the Labor Party, Avi Gabbay, at a press conference in Haifa, January 31, 2019.
Head of the Labor Party, Avi Gabbay, at a press conference in Haifa, January 31, 2019.Credit:
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Labor Party chairman Avi Gabbay said Saturday that he does not see how joining forces with Meretz will lead to victory in the upcoming election.

"There are very significant ideological differences between us and Meretz," Gabbay said at a cultural event in Kfar Saba. According to Gabbay, "an alliance with Meretz does not increase our chances of changing the government's leadership."

During a press release after the event, Gabbay reiterated his belief that Labor is the only alternative to a government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, though he did not mention Meretz by name.

"The only way that voters of our camp can be certain that their voices won't end up supporting Netanyahu is to vote for Labor, because every vote for another party is a vote that is liable to join a Netanyahu government," Gabbay said. "After ten years under Netanyahu's leadership, the time has come to replace him."

Head of Meretz, Tamar Zandberg, in the Knesset, December 7, 2018.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

In response to Gabbay's statements, Meretz chairwoman Tamar Zandberg said, "It's amazing that even as Labor nosedives, Gabbay continues to distance himself from the left." According to Zandberg, "what Israel needs is a left that is confident and clear. This is the only alternative to the extreme and racist right."

Zandberg called upon "all the left-leaning men and women in Labor and other parties to join us in Israel's left."

On Thursday, the Meretz leader also called upon lawmakers in Labor, including Labor's opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich, to join Meretz. "Your place is with us, in Israel's left," she wrote on Twitter in response to a radio interview by Yacimovich.

Former Meretz lawmaker Nitzan Horowitz tweeted a banner saying, "Labor and Meretz united – The Zionist Left," and a caption that read, "Believers do not fear."

Gabbay also said Saturday that he doesn't believe the attorney general's announcement of a decision regarding the Netanyahu corruption cases will be useful for Labor. "It will mobilize Netanyahu's base, and in the end he'll say 'See? They publicized their recommendation and I still got elected.' Netanyahu's government is like the Mafia, it incites against every institution."

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