Two Labor Party lawmakers, including veteran MK Eitan Cabel, on Thursday urged their leader Avi Gabbay to consider moving aside in order to save the center-left party from catastrophic results in the upcoming April elections.
The calls came as some Labor party activists began gathering signatures in a bid to oust Gabbay from power, according to Hebrew reports.
“In the business world, he would long ago have handed over the keys, if he wasn’t pushed out,” Cabel told Army Radio in an interview.
Labor MK Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin also told the radio station that “she would like to see him [Gabbay] switched.”
The Labor Party responded with a statement accusing Cabel of “subversiveness.”
Cabel’s remarks came two days after Gabbay announced on live TV the termination of Labor’s ties with Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua party, thus disbanding the Labor-Hatnua partnership that constituted the Zionist Union — as Livni sat by his side, without having been given advance notice.
Polls published Wednesday showed Labor slipping from around nine seats before Gabbay’s ouster of Livni to 7-8 seats.
Cabel warned that the actual results in the April elections could be even worse.
In recent years, election day results have been notably worse than polls predicted, he said. “I went and checked things out. The significance could be the disappearance of this glorious party that established the State.”
Cabel told the radio station that 10 days ago Gabbay met with him and asked his opinion about ditching Livni. Cabel said he warned against the move and insisted it would be a blow to the party.
The polls from Wednesday, he noted, proved he was right in his assessment.
He called for the convening of a Labor “ideological committee” in order to “present our wares to the public” and reinvigorate the ailing party.
“Cabel’s subversiveness is nothing new,” Labor said in a statement following the MK’s interview, accusing him of repeatedly changing his position.
Cabel entered the Knesset as a Labor MK in 1996 and has remained with the party ever since. The Israeli Labor Party was formed in 1968 by a merger of three parties, one of which was David Ben Gurion’s Mapai party which was founded in 1930. In the years leading up to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Mapai was the de facto leadership of the Jewish community and played a key role in the creation of the state.
Last week, the Knesset dissolved parliament and set elections for the spring.
Since then, there has been a slew of political maneuvering with alliances on both the right and left dissolved and at least four new parties registered.