The mayor of the southern city of Beersheba said Monday that he had turned down Labor chief Avi Gabbay’s offer of a guaranteed place on the opposition party’s slate of candidates for April’s Knesset elections.
Gabbay offered Ruvik Danilovich the Number 2 spot on Labor’s electoral ticket, according to Hebrew media reports, which is reserved for a candidate of the party leader’s choosing. The 10th and 16th spots will also be filled at Gabbay’s discretion.
“In the last three Knesset election campaigns I received offers from various parties to be placed on their lists… I see my public service in the Negev as a national mission,” Danilovich said in a statement.
“I intend to continue to serve the country from the Negev,” he added.
Danilovich was elected mayor of Beersheba in 2008 and was reelected to serve a third term in October with over 90 percent of the vote. He was formerly a member of Labor but has headed independent lists in municipal elections.
Earlier, Channel 12 news reported that Gabbay had offered former Yesh Atid MK Haim Jelin the number 10 spot in Labor, but was rebuffed.
Jelin, a former head of the Gaza-area Eshkol Regional Council, announced last week he would leave Yesh Atid, reportedly upon learning he was unlikely to serve in the next Knesset after receiving a low spot on the centrist party’s electoral list.
“Haim Jelin has no ideological problem with Labor but he won’t jump from party to party in order to be a Knesset member,” unnamed associates of Jelin were quoted as saying by Ynet.
The rejection of Gabbay’s offers for a reserved spot in Labor comes as the party has seen a bump in polls since holding internal primaries last week, but is still projected to fall well short of the 19 seats it currently holds.
Gabbay, a former minister for the Kulanu party, faces considerable criticism from a number of Labor lawmakers ahead of the primary over his stewardship of the party amid its sagging electoral strength.