Labor members and MKs considering leaving the party, among other bumps

Some rough behavior occurred at the conference of the Labor Party central committee on Jan. 10, attended by 2,500, including reports of physical violence.

Labour Party leader Avi Gabay speaks during a press conference at the Labour Party offices in Tel Aviv in on Oct.1, 2017. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90.
Labour Party leader Avi Gabay speaks during a press conference at the Labour Party offices in Tel Aviv in on Oct.1, 2017. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90.

After a fraught conference of the Labor Party central committee on Jan. 10, at which members voted to change the party charter and grant unprecedented authority to its chairman, a number of Labor activists, including some central committee members, are considering leaving the party and joining forces with former Zionist Union co-leader Tzipi Livni or political newcomer Benny Gantz.

Speaking to Israel Hayom, Young Labor activist Oren Pasternak said “there are plenty of activists who are considering moving over to Gantz’s or Livni’s parties, including a lot of major activists, members of the central committee, and leaders of local branches. As far as I know, there are also two or three Labor MKs who are in negotiations with Gantz or Livni.”

The Young Labor activist stressed that “our goal is to promote people of values, of ideology on the list for the primaries, and not [Labor leader Avi] Gabbay’s trolls.”

“Some of the party’s activists won’t cooperate with election headquarters under Gabbay’s leadership, and we intend to continue the fight to prevent the Labor Party from becoming ‘Kulanu 2,’ ” Pasternak continued, making reference to the party established by former Likud Knesset member Moshe Kahlon.

“Gabbay is turning the party into a party of one, but we won’t let him. You don’t build leadership through violence,” Pasternak said, adding that Gabbay supporters had resorted to physical violence at the conference and that one of them had torn up his delegate’s card, which is also the card members use to vote.

Israel Hayom has received additional reports of physical violence at Thursday’s conference. Dor Zuriel, a party activist and conference delegate, was assaulted and hit in the back.

“I was standing and booing during Gabbay’s speech,” said Zuriel.

“My boos were really loud and annoying, and that made people try and attack me. I was kicked, and they tried to force me off of my chair. People were being really violent, and then out of nowhere a guy showed up with a stick and a flag and just gave me a brutal, painful whack. Luckily, he didn’t break anything. I filed a police complaint against the attacker, the Labor Party, and Avi Gabbay, who are responsible for order and for the safety of central committee members.”

Eli Rokach, another delegate who was attacked at the conference, said, “I was standing and booing Gabbay, and then a guy from the front rows got up, holding a stick and a flag, and hit me on the head and [hit] Dor Zuriel in the back.”

“The security guards jumped me and I felt like I was in North Korea. My head is swollen. I’m a 72-year-old guy, in my life I’ve never been so insulted and humiliated like I was at the conference. Afterward, Avi Gabbay called me, apologized and promised he would handle it,” said Rokach.

At a town hall meeting in Netanya on Saturday, Gabbay discussed the events of Thursday’s conference.

The Labor leader told the audience that a small group had been booing him, “but it was the smallest minority.”

He said that “2,500 people attended the conference. The Labor Party hasn’t seen so many in a long time, and I see that as a positive thing.”

The Labor Party issued a statement that read: “An experienced security firm was hired to handle the event, and the security guards did their job and maintained order during the conference. If it turns out there were aberrant events, we will address the matter immediately.”

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