Three Labor Party members of Knesset announced on Wednesday that they will not be running in the Labor Party's primary ahead of the upcoming Israeli election, with polls predicting a dramatic loss of support.
Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin, Hilik Bar and Eitan Broshi said they will also not run in Labor's February primary.
Nahmias-Verbin and Bar criticized party chairman Avi Gabbay, but both said they do not intend to leave public service. Nahmias-Verbin did not rule out the possibility of joining another party, while Bar said he would turn to non-parliamentary activity.
Broshi, whose relationship with Gabbay went downhill after Gabbay had called him a sex offender on Twitter, said he was retiring for medical reasons.
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The three joined MK Miki Rosenthal, who announced last week that he would not run again in the February 12 primary.
The registration for the Labor primary closes on Thursday, which explains the timing of the announcements by the three MKs. So far, only 30 people have registered to run in the primary, and the list of new people running in the primary includes very few household names.
Nahmias-Verbin, who was considered one of Labor’s most effective MKs in the outgoing Knesset, opposed the split with MK Tzipi Livni and her Hatnuah party. “I saw the dismantling of the Zionist Union and the way it was done as a strategic mistake that will seriously harm the chances of changing the government,” she said on Wednesday. “As of today, my home is no longer the same home,” she said, adding that she too personally accepts some of the responsibility for the situation.
In response, a number of senior Labor officials said Nahmias-Verbin is leaving after she realized that her chances of winning a high slot on the party slate in the primary were not good.
Livni said that Nahmias-Verbin gave her heart and soul to politics: "She saw, as we did, the Zionist Union as a true partnership that was always guided by Yitzhak Rabin," she said.
Bar said in his announcement that “sadly and tragically, even if not intentionally, the Labor Party, Yitzhak Rabin's party, has lowered its flag to half-staff in recent years, the flag of peace, when in truth this is the most important issue on the agenda.” Bar said he is now busy with establishing an organization to act to advance the two-state peace solution – and will work to help the party succeed in the coming election. In the last two Knesset elections, Bar had a high place reserved for him on the party slate because he also served as the party’s secretary general – but he was recently replaced in the post and this time would have had to run in the primary.
A number of claims involving sexual harassment against Broshi were raised in the past year, including an incident with Nahmias-Verbin in which he patted her on the rear – which he later called a friendly gesture. A short time later another woman came out with a story that he had sexually assaulted her before becoming an MK. Gabbay called on Broshi to resign and called him a “sex offender,” and in return Broshi filed a lawsuit against him.
Broshi said on Wednesday that he has been undergoing a series of medical treatments in recent months, which require him to give priority to his health over the Knesset.
Party MKs and operatives are concerned about the upcoming election after the most recent poll, on Wednesday, gave Labor seven to nine Knesset seats only – compared with the 24 seats the party, as part of Zionist Union, has currently.
Because Gabbay has the right to name two of the first ten names on the party slate (numbers 2 and 10), and has promised that at least three women will appear among the first 10 candidates on the slate (and another three in the next 10), this means that only four male MKs will have spots to run for in the opening ten – and the rest will remain outside the Knesset, a senior party member told Haaretz.