Politicians on the right and center were not impressed with the right-wing comments made by Zionist Camp chairman Avi Gabay. After proclaiming that he would be very reluctant to remove Jews from their homes in Yehudah and Shomron as part of a peace agreement with Palestinians, Gabay was accused of being a “closet right-winger” and “Likud clone” by members of his own party. But Yerushalayim Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin, a real Likud member, said he did not believe Gabay, in an interview on Kol Chai radio.
What mattered was not what one Zionist Camp member said, but what the party as a whole did. “If you look at the entire party you see that it is a radical left party, far more than any we have ever seen.” Gabay was likely proclaiming himself as a right-winger with the idea of getting votes from Likud voters who are dissatisfied with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. “Gabay learned from Yair Lapid, who started out with this tactic” of proclaiming right-wing viewpoints, and later switched to a leftist orientation. Like Lapid, Gabay “says leftist things when he wakes up on his left side, and when he wakes up on his right side, he says right-wing things,” according to Elkin.
In weekend comments, Gabay said that he could see a coalition between Zionist Camp and Lapid’s Yesh Atid overcoming the current Likud-led government, but speaking to Army Radio Wednesday, Lapid said that Gabay ought not to count on him. “We have a great many differences with Zionist Camp,” Lapid said. “When they condemn activities by groups like ‘Breaking the Silence’ that condemn IDF actions abroad, and when they say what they think about the Histadrut and its constant labor actions, then we can talk. We have differences with Labor/Zionist Camp, and differences with the Likud. The left will not win any more elections in this country. Avi Gabay and Zionist Camp MK Shelly Yechimovich are not going to win,” he added.
MKs from his own party slammed Gabay for his comments in a Channel Two interview Monday, where the Zionist Camp chairman said that he did not believe in forced evacuations and the surrender of Jewish settlements. “We can find solutions without evacuating settlements,” Gabay said. “If you are making peace, why do you need to throw people out of their homes? The terminology – that peace equals evacuation – is incorrect. We must find solutions that do not require such actions.”
After loud criticism against him by members of the left, as well as other Zionist Camp MKs, for his reluctance to force Jews in Yehudah and Shomron to leave their homes, Gabay sought to give his position context Tuesday. In an interview with Israel Radio, Gabay said that he was very much in favor of a deal with Palestinians, but that “we need to think creatively about ways to avoid forcing evacuations of settlements. It would be complicated enough to come to an agreement, and we don’t have to make it more complicated by treating the evacuation of 80,000 Jews from their homes as a secondary issue,” Gabay said, citing the number of Jews living outside the settlement blocs, which Gabay said Israel needed to keep in the event of any settlement with the Palestinians.