Gabbay Breaks With Traditional Unity in Time of Crisis

Zionist Camp leader Avi Gabay seen leading a faction meeting in the Knesset on Monday. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The new Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay has defied conventional political wisdom by pursuing a no-confidence motion in the midst of a national security crisis, a time when even opposition leaders usually back the government.

Even after Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid called off his party’s motion of no-confidence in the Netanyahu government on Monday amid a mushrooming crisis now involving Jordan, Gabbay decided to advance his own motion.

“Even with the tension around us being high, [we] must say the truth to the public and not wear masks. Netanyahu does not manage the country in a straightforward manner, does not listen to Shin Bet and other security branches, which is why more and more Israelis do not trust him.”

In closed-door meetings, the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security agency, has reportedly argued in favor of removing the metal detectors on Har HaBayis, as opposed to the police who want them to remain.

Referring to the diplomatic flare-up with Jordan over a self-defense killing by an Israeli security employee in Amman, Gabbay said as follows: “We have seen decisions made haphazardly without taking into account strategic considerations and the needs of our partners in the Middle East.

“Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Rabin made peace agreements that brought breakthroughs with Egypt and Jordan. No metal detector should be allowed to endanger these relationships, which impact our alliance with Sunni states against Iran.”

The criticism was made at a Zionist Camp faction meeting on Monday in the context of a broader attack on Netanyahu, which was launched by Gabbay as soon as he was elected Labor party chairman (the senior member of the faction).

Gabbay assailed Netanyahu’s penchant for entrusting matters of national security to his private lawyers, David Shimron and Isaac Molho, who are partners in the same Yerushalayim law firm.

“The mix of private lawyers handling key matters of state, the lack of a head of the National Security Council, and the foreign ministry being split in six pieces is harmful,” Gabbay said. “This is not the way a country should be run and is not the way our security should be handled, and it does not matter how many years of experience you have.”

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, better known as a critic of Netanyahu, this time defended the prime minister.

“The government of Israel is acting with responsibility, unity and thoughtfulness in the face of a complicated diplomatic and security situation,” Bennett said. “In contrast to the claims from the opposition benches, the decisions are made in an orderly, rational and responsible manner; and I fully back the prime minister, police and all security forces.”

Bennet also recently came to Netanyahu’s side in denying allegations of wrongdoing in the purchase of submarines from Germany.

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