Herzog Ousted in Labor Primary; Peretz, Gabbay in Runoff

YERUSHALAYIM -
Labor party MK Amir Peretz casting his vote in the primaries on Tuesday. (Flash90)

Labor Party members voted Isaac Herzog out of power on Tuesday after the party’s support declined drastically during his chairmanship over the past three years.

Veteran MK and former Labor chairman Amir Peretz will contest for the leadership with party newcomer Avi Gabbay in a second round of voting after coming in ahead in a field of seven candidates. As no candidate received more than 40 percent of the vote, the two will face off on Monday.

Peretz, who was slightly favored to win, took 32.7 percent of the total vote; Gabbay won 27 percent.

The turnout in the race was nearly 60 percent, with 30,995 Labor members casting ballots out of the 52,505 Labor members eligible to vote in the primary. The turnout was an improvement over the 52 percent in the 2013 race when Herzog defeated MK Shelly Yachimovich.

Under Herzog, the Labor Party, which is the senior partner in the Zionist Camp coalition with Tzipi Livni, plunged from winning 24 seats in the last elections in 2013 to single digits in recent polls.

Herzog’s failed negotiations with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to bring the party into the coalition in the framework of a peace initiative severely damaged his prestige.