Labor Party Chairman Avi Gabbay drew a great deal of criticism from the left Monday evening after saying he would not outright agree to the evacuation of settlements in the framework of a future peace agreement.
In an interview with Channel 2 News, Gabbay was asked whether he felt that the West Bank settlements of Ofra and Eli should be evacuated in a future peace agreement. Gabbay replied that it shouldn't necessarily be a prerequisite to peace.
"If we make a peace agreement, why should we evacuate?" he said. "I think that the dynamics or terminology we have become accustomed to here, where 'if you make peace—you evacuate,' are not necessarily true."
"If you make a peace agreement, you can find solutions that do not require evacuation," he concluded.
Many Knesset members belonging to Gabbay's faction disputed Gabbay's remarks.
MK Itzik Shmuli (Labor) tweeted that "A separation to two states (is—ed) of a top existential interest that will require painful concessions and the evacuation of parts of our homeland. Otherwise, my generation will have to choose between our being a Jewish dictatorship or an Arab state."
MK Zuhair Bahlul (Labor) also rejected Gabbay's remarks, saying they were contradictory to the values of his party.
"Seizing power is not done by abandoning the basic principles and values of your party. There can be no political solution without settlement evacuation," Bahlul said. "I regret and wonder about the statement of those elected to lead the peace camp."
Members of the Left-wing party Meretz also criticized Gabbay's comments.
Meretz Parliamentary Group Chairman Ilan Gilon said that "there already is one Likud, we don't need another.
"It's a shame that Avi Gabbay forgot that he was chosen to head the alternative camp for the Likud, which is supposed to bring about a change and a political breakthrough, not be more of the same."
On the other hand, Maj. Gen. (res.) Amiram Levin, himself a member of the Labor Party, expressed support for Gabbay's remarks.
"In negotiations one should not concede in advance, Gabbay's starting point is correct," he noted. "Thanks to the settlers, we will be able to conduct tough negotiations with the aim of leaving the majority of our settlements without sacrificing security, but we must rid ourselves of our reign over more than 2.5 million Palestinians."