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Israeli Labor leader says 'will not share a government' with Arab parties

Avi Gabbay, ex-businessman and political newcomer, is elected head of Israel's opposition Labour party taking 52 percent of the votes in the runoff against longtime politician and former party leader Amir Peretz
Head of Joint Arab List says Gabbay's Labor not a true alternative to Netanyahu's right-wing

Israel's Labor party leader Avi Gabbay said Saturdsay that he would not enter into a governing coalition with the country's Arab political party, the Joint List.

"We will not share a government with the Joint List, period," Gabbay said at a political forum in the southern city of Be'er Sheva, Hebrew media outlets reported.

"You see their behavior," he added. "I don't see any [connection] between us that would allow us to be part of a government with them."

Gabbay said that Labor would need to earn 27 seats in the next election in order to be in a position to form a ruling coalition with the center-left Yesh Atid party, which itself would need to win 11 seats.

He also did not rule out the possibility of a coalition governmnet between Labor, center-right Kulanu, secular right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu, and the ultra-Orthodox parties.

Ahmad Gharabli (AFP/File)

Joint Arab List leader Ayman Odeh responded to Gabbay's remarks, saying that the Labor party does not represent a true alternative to Netanyahu's right-wing.

"Someone who doesn’t view Arab citizens and their elected representatives as a legitimate group, doesn't present a real alternative to the right," Odeh said.

"Since the days of [former Prime Minister and Labor leader] Ehud Barak, the Labor Party has strived to be a pale replica of the right – and the citizens always choose the original. To be drawn into the delegitimization campaign led by the prime minister against Arab citizens is a huge gift to the far-right coalition headed by Netanyahu and the settlers," he added.

Gabbay won the Labor runoff in July to head Israel's opposition, and supporters hope the political newcomer with a business background will galvanize his beleaguered party.

Gabbay surprised observers by reaching the runoff after joining the party in December, just months after quitting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government.

See also:

Who is Avi Gabbay, the new head of Israel's opposition Labor party?




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