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'Irrelevant' Gabbay loses potential Israeli coalition partners

Ex-businessman Avi Gabbay, won the leadership of Israel's Labour party at electipn runoffs beating longtime politician and former party leader Amir Peretz
JACK GUEZ (AFP)
“There are two parties, Yisrael Beytenu and Kulanu, that would never join a Gabbay coalition,” Liberman said.

The leaders of the Kulanu and Yisrael Beitenu political factions Moshe Kahlon and Avigdor Liberman were united in their vow on Saturday not to join any possible government coalition headed by recently elected chairman of the Israeli Labor party, Avi Gabbay.

Gabbay’s reputation has been on the rise and is responsible for the party shooting up in the polls from 12 to 20 seats, however these recent calls by Kahlon and Liberman cast doubt on his ability to seek the prime ministerial office.

In an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 “Meet the Press” program, Avigdor Liberman said, “Avi Gabbay is an irrelevant person."

“There are at least two parties, Yisrael Beytenu and Kulanu, that would never join a Gabbay coalition,” he continued, stating “a thousand and one reasons.”

“He doesn’t stand a chance,” Liberman said, “he can’t have a coalition when both of those parties are not involved.”

AFP/Menahem Kahana

In another interview with Channel 2, Kahlon said that his party would not sit in a Zionist Union-led government. When asked if he was angry with Gabbay for helping found Kulanu and then quitting the party in protest of the coalition deal with Yisrael Beitenu, Kahlon said he was, “not angry” but “disappointed with his conduct.”

Kahlon proclaimed, “we will not be a ‘fig leaf’ for a leftist government.”

“I consider myself to be part of the national camp, unlike the Labor party...I opposed the disengagement and I am in favor of the Land of Israel, and a united Jerusalem.”

The Kulanu leader has cited differences with Gabbay over the prospects of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in a future peace deal.

AFP

A few weeks ago, Gabbay said he would not enter into a governing coalition with the Joint List, the Arab political party stating that he “did not see any [connection] between” them that would permit them to be in government together.

With a general election set for November 2019, it is becoming increasingly palpable that Gabbay would struggle to form a governing coalition without Yisrael Beitenu, Kulanu and the Joint List. Alongside this, there is little possibility that neither Likud nor the Jewish Home would seek out a Labor-headed alliance.

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