With his party riding high in opinion polls and the prime minister under investigation, Labor party chairman Avi Gabbay on Monday urged the government to call early elections.
“In the past few weeks, we’ve been hearing about a conflict in the coalition: On the one hand, the prime minister wants to call elections as soon as possible, and on the other, the party leaders prefer elections on schedule,” Gabbay claimed during the weekly meeting of his Zionist Camp faction, of which Labor is the senior partner. “In this debate, I agree with the prime minister: The time has come for elections.”
“We all see the tensions in Gaza, in the Golan Heights” and in Lebanon, argued Gabbay. “In this atmosphere, the people of Israel need a focused government and not one that is dealing solely with whether or not elections will be held.”
If held on schedule, the next election will be November 2019, but the prime minister has the option of calling for elections before that if he becomes convinced that the current political alignment is not sustainable. As three major investigations proceed into alleged corruption in his government, Netanyahu is perceived as increasingly vulnerable, and the pressure on him to resign or call for elections has been mounting.
Gabbay also said on Monday that would be willing to run as the No. 2 on a list of candidates under Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid, if polls indicate that the latter party would do better against Likud than Zionist Camp.
“Some said I have deviated to the right or to the left, but that’s not true,” he told student activists at Ben Gurion University. “I have said that I will not join a faction with the Joint (Arab) List and also that I won’t evacuate [settlement] blocs.”
“I’m not a product of political advisers,” he said.