Three-way race for Labor leader with the outcome decided on Tuesday

One of the candidates must achieve at least 40 percent of the vote to win the right to lead the party that once dominated Israeli politics.

By World Israel News Staff

Labor ballots opened at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday as four Labor leaders compete for the party’s top spot. But only three have a reasonable shot at winning.

The three top candidates are Amir Peretz (67), representing the older generation, and two younger faces, Stav Shaffir (34) and Itzik Shmuli (39).

The winner will replace outgoing Labor chief Avi Gabbay, who resigned on June 13, a delayed reaction to Labor’s worst showing ever in the April elections when it won only 6 seats, down from 24 when it ran as the Zionist Union in 2015.

In order to replace Gabbay, one of the candidates must achieve at least 40 percent of the vote. If not, a second election will take place.

The results are expected to be announced around 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

Israel’s Channel 12 revealed that Shmuli and Shaffir met on Monday night to discuss the possibility of running together on the same ticket. According to recordings of their conversation, Shmueli suggested they run together but with a hierarchy. Shaffir said they should run as equals, citing the political partnership of Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, two right-wing politicians.

Shmueli replied that it would look “funny” that two co-equal leaders will lead only four Knesset members.

“We are six MKs, but we will be more because we are inventing something new,” Shafir answered. “I fear that precisely because our relationship is shaky, it could be a war of attrition.”

Whoever wins the Labor leadership may be in for a short tenure. According to Labor party bylaws, if the Labor party candidate is not chosen to form a government, a new leader must be chosen within 14 months.

Pundits say that there’s a strong likelihood that no matter who wins, Labor will run jointly with the yet-unnamed party of Ehud Barak. Barak formerly served as prime minister (1999-2001) and was head of the Labor party. He announced his new party on June 27.