Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90
Labor leader Avi Gabbai whispering to MK Tzipi Livni, March 12, 2018.

Labor Party activists on Thursday began collecting the signatures of conference delegates favoring the removal of Avi Gabai from the party chairmanship. They also demand that he be prevented from securing spots on the party’s Knesset list, which is normally the chairperson’s prerogative.

Some activists are affiliated with MK Amir Peretz. Others with his former partner, opposition leader, MK Tzipi Livni. MK Eitan Cabel on Thursday morning called for Gabai’s resigntion over the abysmal performance of the Zionist Union in the polls. Cabel is being openly supported by MKs Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin and Yoseph Yonah.

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The party convention is due next week, and the anti-Gabai activists must raise 1,350 signatures to force a vote on his dismissal.

The signature drive is seen as a reaction to Gabai’s public dumping of MK Livni Livni, his failure to address important security and political issues, and the party’s severe slide in the polls, from 24 to as few as seven seats.

Labor Party Chairman Gabbai stunned the political system by announcing live the removal of Tzipi Livni from the party he rules. Gabai told Yedioth Ahronoth Thursday that the straw that broke the camel’s back was his strong opinion that “we would not enter a government headed by Netanyahu,” which was rejected by Livni.

Asked why he chose to remove her from the list publicly, in an open and live Knesset faction meeting, Gabbai replied: “I grew up in the neighborhood (a general term for the mean streets) and I learned in the neighborhood that if you are hit, you hit back, don’t rush to make peace.”

Gabbai said that Livni did not agree to a commitment not to join a Netanyahu government. “I said that we would not enter a government headed by Netanyahu,” he reiterated.

Later the same day, Livni told News 10 that her public dismissal ” was a surprise.”

“I did not feel humiliated,” she insisted. “I get responses from women who say that the story of a man, who turns himself into a man by trying to humiliate a woman in public – those days are over. In my opinion, too.”

She said that after the meeting, she “said that this partnership really was not working. I am fighting all the time, including as opposition chairperson, for the positions I believe in. The decision has now been passed on to the public.”

According to surveys published Wednesday by Channel 2 News and Kan, Israel’s Public Broadcasting Corporation news, if the elections were held today, the Labor Party would win seven to eight seats.

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