Former Netanyahu Minister Avi Gabbay Joins Opposition Labor Party

'A new journey begins,' tweets the former environmental protection minister, six months after leaving cabinet in protest over the firing of defense chief Moshe Ya'alon.

Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabai announces his resignation, May 27, 2016.
Moti Milrod

Avi Gabbay, a former minister in Netanyahu's cabinet, announced on Thursday that he is leaving the Kulanu party to join the opposition Labor Party.

Gabbay, who left the Netanyahu government in May, was one of the founders of Kulanu and even though he wasn't a Knesset member, party leader Moshe Kahlon appointed him to the cabinet.

“Good morning. Six months after leaving the cabinet, a new journey begins” he tweeted this morning.

Gabbay resigned in protest over the firing of defense minister Moshe Ya’alon. On Thursday he announced his move, adding that he would try to recruit new members for Labor. In Facebook post, he wrote that over the last six months, he had been contemplating where he could have more influence.

“I don’t fit into a party in which one person alone decides on positions and on how to vote. I don’t belong in a party which strengthens Netanyahu, since he must be replaced. These considerations have led me to conclude that the Labor Party is the place I am seeking,” the post said.

Gabbay noted that the party is far removed from its heyday but that “this is precisely the challenge – I like challenges, which is why I decided to join and strengthen the only party which is a real alternative, not a Band-Aid for the Netanyahu government.”

Gabbay did not say whether he would vie for the party’s leadership or a place on its Knesset list. Like MK Erel Margalit (Zionist Union) and Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat, he too is a millionaire with ample means who could invest heavily in a political campaign without being subject to campaign financing laws. Gabbay is a friend of Shelly Yacimovich and the two meet on a regular basis. They met at a Tel Aviv café on Wednesday as well.