At an impromptu press conference outside his Tel Aviv home Tuesday, newly elected Labor Party chairman Avi Gabbay told reporters that he saw his victory over Amir Peretz in the party primaries as “a new hope for Israel. I am very happy this morning for this new hope. I am getting phone calls from all over, not just from Labor members. This is a hopeful day for them as well.” Gabbay was getting on his bicycle for a morning ride – sans helmet, which is required by law, reporters noted.
The polls closed at 9 p.m. Monday, and a half-hour afterward it emerged that Gabbay had taken the primary, with 16,080 votes – 52 percent of the total, versus the 14,734 his rival Amir Peretz received.
“For all those who had doubts about the vibrancy of Israeli democracy, for all those eulogized Labor, for all those who have lost hope for change – Monday night’s victory is the answer to all those,” Gabbay said in his victory speech Monday.
The hope, of course, is that the until now seemingly unbeatable Binyamin Netanyahu could be brought down in an upcoming election, and Gabbay told reporters that he was preparing to do just that.
“Tomorrow we will begin the campaign to win the hearts of Israelis who love their country, who serve it and are worried about it. Israelis who believe in our way have for decades avoided voting Labor. We will win them over, and win them back. We will go from town to town, we will wear down our shoe leather and convince them,” Gabbay said.
In comments Monday night, Gabbay said in a swipe at Netanyahu that “we are tired of leadership that doesn’t see us as a priority. It is time for leadership that will place the citizen and the human being at the center of its concerns, that works for the public and has ambitions beyond just getting re-elected. We need leadership that is concerned not just with Amona, but with Dimona,” he added.