Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg
Avi Gabbay
Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg

Zionist Union faces party split, Barak may be asked to lead

MKs unhappy with Gabbay, pessimistic of party's standing in the polls consider breakaway party to be headed by veteran politician; Barak remains vague but promises to assist anyone capable of presenting alternative leadership to Netanyahu.

As general elections seem to be likely, sooner rather than later, there are those in the Zionist Union Party who are working energetically behind the scenes and are examining the possibility of a split in the party.



"At this point in time or later, a split up in the party is inevitable," said a political source in the party.


Gabbay, Livni at press conference (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
Gabbay, Livni at press conference (Photo: Motti Kimchi)

The recent announcements by party Chairman Avi Gabbay that he intends to publish a list of recommended candidates for the primaries have raised the level of pressure among Knesset members who see the state of recent polls and understand that if the party's situation does not dramatically improve, they are likely to remain outside the Knesset.


In addition, the fact that Gabbay reserved the right to set aside seats for candidates of his choosing, and it is not yet clear whether those candidates, already approved by the party commission, also include the seats guaranteed to his running mate, MK Tzipi Livni.


In recent days, there have been quite a few behind the scenes discussions regarding the possibility of a split in the party.


Party Knesset members admit that political elements, not currently in the party, have held various talks with them over the last few days examining the possibility that eight MKs will breakaway, even during the current Knesset session and establish a party platform as the first stage. In the second stage, they will call on a veteran candidate, Ehud Barak for example, to head the new list.


Ehud Barak (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
Ehud Barak (Photo: Motti Kimchi)


Among politicians in the party, a list of names of nine potential MKs who might potentially split from Gabbay and set up the new platform has been circulating in recent days.


Some of the members on the list who Ynet contacted vehemently deny their involvement; others confirm that such a move has taken place, but that it has not yet matured. There is still the issue of recruiting the number of MKs needed for a split (one-third of the faction — eight MKs).


Last month, Gabbay and MK Tzipi Livni concluded an agreement to continue their political cooperation in the framework of the Zionist Union Party. As part of this agreement, Livni was appointed opposition chairman instead of former MK Isaac Herzog who left for his new post as Chairman of the Jewish Agency.


Gabbay and Livni also agreed that if the party wins the elections, there will be no rotation between Livni and Gabbay: "We are making a significant step today in building an alternative to the current government, which will be a new hope for the citizens of Israel and allow us to invest all our energy outwards,” said Gabbay at the time.


As for Ehud Barak's possible reentry into politics, at the moment he is still vague. In a dramatic speech last month, Barak said he prefers not to return to political life, "but I will help anyone who wants to, or can, or will. I will do everything to unite forces that will be a turning point, but I do not care if I am in the 20th place on the list, the 120nd, or absent completely; it's not about me."


Barak declared that there is an opportunity for a political upheaval: "If we understand the need and urgency to join hands, there is a historic, very practical possibility of establishing a different, strong, cohesive, sober and fearless leadership that will bring with it vision, hope and initiative to act, make decisions and the ability to execute them.”



פרסום ראשון: 09.01.18, 19:17
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