Gabbay to Labor: Netanyahu era has ended, prepare for elections
In wake of recent developments in investigations against the prime minister and his close associates, leader of the Labor party prepares members for possibility of early elections; 'The criminal house of cards the prime minister has built in recent years is crumbling down on top of him and his close circle,' he says.
Labor leader Avi Gabbay sent out a letter to party members on Tuesday declaring "The Netanyahu era has ended. We must prepare for elections soon" in the wake of the latest developments in the investigations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his close associates.
News of a fresh investigation involving close associates of the prime minister broke out on Tuesday as suspicions emerged former District Court president Hila Gerstel was offered the attorney general's position by Netanyahu's former media adviser Nir Hefetz and former Bezeq strategic adviser Eli Kamir, allegedly on behalf of the prime minister.
In return for the appointment, Gerstel was asked to close the case against the prime minister's wife, Sara, for alleged forgery of receipts and misuse of public funds, also referred to as the Prime Minister's residences affair.
"Until now we had one situation, from tonight the situation is different. We have to wait and see where things lead," a senior coalition official told Ynet on Tuesday night.
Gabbay's letter was sent out even before it was announced that former Communications Ministry director-general Shlomo Filber, a close associate of Netanyahu, signed a state witness agreement in the Bezeq corruption affair, also known as Case 4000.
Police and the Securities Authority launched an open investigation into Case 4000 earlier this week after suspicions arose Bezeq majority shareholder Shaul Elovitch enjoyed benefits for his companies in return for flattering coverage of Netanyahu and his family on the Walla! News website, which Bezeq owns.
These cases come in the wake of police recommendation to indict Netanyahu for bribery in two additional cases, Case 1000 (the illicit gifts affair) and Case 2000 (Netanyahu's talks with Yedioth Ahronoth owner and publisher Arnon Mozes).
Gabbay has been working in recent days to prepare his party for the possibility early elections are called.
"The criminal house of cards the prime minister has built in recent years—the corruption of the public service, undermining the rule of law, threatening the freedom of the press, and above all: the division and incitement of groups in Israeli society against one another—is crumbling down on top of him and his close circle," Gabbay wrote to Labor MKs.
"A prime minister whose director-general and chief of staff are state witnesses must step down immediately. (Moshe) Kahlon and (Naftali) Bennett will understand that in the coming days as well," he continued.
"To realize our promise to the public, we will need to come together, along with the effort and talent and each and every one of you and our tens of thousands of activists across the country," Gabbay concluded.
Earlier this week, Gabbay presented his Labor party MKs with polls he commissioned indicating Tzipi Livni's Hatnua party, which is in partnership with Labor under the banner of the Zionist Union party, would barely pass the electorate threshold on its own. This, he said, meant any reserved spots on the Zionist Union Knesset list for Hatnua in the coming elections would come at a higher cost.