Newcomer Avi Gabbay to lead Israeli Labor party

Avi Gabbay arriving at a polling station at Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv, July 10, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Avi Gabbay arriving at a polling station at Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv, July 10, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

(JTA) – Avi Gabbay will lead Israel’s Labor party after defeating his opponent in the second round of primaries.

On Monday evening, Gabbay, who switched to the centre-left Labor party several months ago from Kulanu, a smaller centre-right party, won the election to head the party, garnering 52 per cent of the vote. His opponent, Amir Peretz, a former Labor head and defense minister got 47 per cent of the vote.

Gabbay, a former environmental protection minister who was seen as a dark horse candidate in the Labor race, and Peretz advanced to the second round of voting after beating current opposition leader Isaac Herzog in the first party primaries last week. In the first round, Peretz got 33 per cent of the vote, Gabbay got 27 per cent and Herzog, who has served as the party’s chief for one four-year term, got 16 per cent.

Labor currently serves in the Knesset as part of the opposition bloc Zionist Union in partnership with the small Hatnua party of former foreign minister Tzipi Livni. Zionist Union holds 24 seats in the 120-member parliament.

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