Labor party candidate: Herzog to remain opposition head

A finalist in Israel’s Labor party race voiced intentions to retain outgoing leader, MK Isaac Herzog, as head of the Opposition. 

By: Jonathan Benedek, World Israel News

One of two remaining candidates in the race to lead Israel’s Labor Party has expressed his intentions keep outgoing leader, MK Isaac Herzog, in his role as head of the opposition in the Knesset.

“The job of opposition leader isn’t a currency to sell,” candidate Avi Gabbay said. “It is fair and in our interest for Herzog to continue in the job, and I will be happy if he agrees to do so.”

The position of opposition head is generally reserved for the Member of Knesset (MK) holding the top slot among the list of MKs in the opposition’s largest faction, and the Labor Party currently holds the highest seat in the opposition’s largest Knesset list, the Zionist Union faction.

Gabbay, who previously served as Environmental Protection Minister in the current government under Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party, cannot become head of the opposition even if he wins the final round in the Labor Party’s primaries because he is not a member of the current Knesset.

Instead, Gabbay must nominate someone else to lead the opposition. This candidate  must then be approved by the majority of MKs in the opposition. Gabbay resigned from his former position in the government in May of last year in protest against the nomination of Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Liberman as Defense Minister.

Amir Peretz, Gabbay’s remaining competitor in the Labor primaries, appeared to respond to Gabbay’s remarks with skepticism.

“I do not think that Herzog will fall for such a promise,” Peretz said, speaking to Israel Radio (Reshet Bet).

Peretz, who is a member of Knesset, can serve as Opposition leader if he wins the Labor primaries. Although he shared complementary remarks about Herzog, Peretz argued that it would be more appropriate for the new leader of the party to serve as head of the Opposition, provided that person is an MK.

“The members of the party expect that the election chairman will lead and bring new energies into the party, that in the Knesset the doorposts will tremble when the opposition chairman will come and speak,” Peretz said.