After Disbanding Zionist Union, Labor Chairman Names New Opposition Leader

Shelly Yacimovich, who acted as opposition leader in the past, accepts Avi Gabbay's proposal, although Knesset has already been dissolved ahead of snap elections

Labor Party chairman Avi Gabbay with lawmaker Shelly Yachimovich in 2018
Tomer Applebaum

Labor Party chairman Avi Gabbay appointed lawmaker Shelly Yacimovich as leader of the opposition on Tuesday, several hours after disbanding the Zionist Union, an alliance held between the party and Tzipi Livni's Hatnuah since 2015.

"I'm proud of Shelly, an excellent MK who leads dogged struggles within the Knesset and without," said Gabbay. "Shelly is an example of a public servant committed to change. She has in the past fulfilled the role of opposition leader with diligence and in the best possible way."

Gabbay announcing Labor split from Livni's Hatnuah.

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Yacimovich accepted Gabbay's proposal, and addressed the fact she was given the role after the Knesset's recent dissolution.

"Needless to say that the main part of the opposition leader's job is done during the Knesset's term and not after its disbandment," Yachimovich said, but added she is "committed to representing the entire opposition with respect, with one goal ahead of us – replacing the regime with a government that strives for peace, fights social inequality and mainly respects democracy and the rule of law."

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Along with Yacimovich's appointment, Gabbay named MK Itzik Shmuli as chairman of the Labor Party faction instead of Yoel Hasson, who was a member of Livni's Hatnuah.

Earlier Tuesday, Gabbay announced the break-up of Zionist Union.

In a press conference, Gabbay said he "still believes in partnerships and connections," but said "successful connections require friendship, abiding by agreements and loyalty to the path ahead."

Gabbay wished Livni, who seemed surprised by the announcement and said she would rather not comment, luck. Gabbay's dramatic announcement also took Zionist Union's lawmakers by surprise.