Zionist Union Chairperson and leader of the largest left-wing party Avi Gabbay said Monday evening that "the left forgot what it means to be Jews"—a statement that repeats almost word per word that made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri ahead of the 1999 elections. Gabbay made the statement while speaking to students at Ben-Gurion University in Be'er Sheva.
"We live in a Jewish state. I believe that, but the Labor party has moved away from that," said Gabbay. "In 1999 Bibi (Netanyahu) was caught on camera saying the Left had forgotten what it means to be a Jew. Do you know what the Left did? It forgot what it means to be Jews. As if to say, 'Okay, you said that about us, so from now on we're only going to be liberals.'"
Gabbay claimed that there needs to be more openness to accepting and incorporating Jewish values.
"We are Jews, and we need to talk about our Jewish values," he said. "I guarantee you; they are the basis for all the generations that have come forth. Where does it all begin? It all begins with our Torah and our laws and our basic values. It all starts there."
Gabbay was later asked whether he would be willing to join in a coalition under MK Yair Lapid, should his Yesh Atid party win more votes than the Labor party in the next general elections.
"If Yesh Atid will get more Knesset seats, I will be willing to be (Lapid's—ed) Number Two," he replied, quickly adding that "I'd do anything to be Number One. If they do not choose me, I'll be Number Two, so as to make a difference. The most important thing is to make a difference."
Since elected head of the Labor party and the Zionist Union, Gabbay has used many statements that were perceived as his courting potential voters more inclined toward the center of the political spectrum: last month, for instance, he noted that he would form a coalition government with the Joint List—comprised of the four Arab parties and whose platform has no mention of Zionism—saying he didn't see anything that "connects us with them."
Two days later, Gabby was criticized by members of his party and the left after saying that a government under his leadership would not necessarily evacuate the settlement blocs as part of a future peace agreement.