The latest statements made by Avi Gabbai, new head of the Israeli Labor Party, sparked a vigorous debate within the Israeli political arena, the Labor Party and the "Zionist camp" opposition union in terms of its political orientation and electoral strategy.

These statements may be termed as follows: Initially, Gabbai declared that he does not plan to involve the joint list, which he termed as anti-Israel, in the coalition of any government he forms; secondly, Gabbai stated that any political settlement or permanent resolutions considered over the table of negotiations with the Palestinians should not be accompanied by a dismantling order of settlements; he, further, asserted that God promised Abraham all of the "land of Israel", though he is still ready to compromise seeking a two-state solution; moreover, Gabbai supported the government's recent decisions to expel refugees and migrants from Africa; finally, he clarified that the left had forgotten what it is meant to be a Jew, a statement uttered by the right-wing leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, on the eve of the 1996 elections. Though the former had the aforementioned statement whispered into the ear of one of the rabbis in confidence back then, Gabbai repeated on the phrase candidly and publicly this time.

Hence was the basis of the session according to which the debate between those who supported the Gabbai tendencies and those who opposed proceeded.

Alongside the debate, two positions within the group of supporters could be observed: One position, which although supported by Gabbai, is believed to be the main reason behind the loss of the left to rule in Israel and a correct sermon to why the left ought to re-abide by the statements they expressed and according to which they were represented in the past. This is whereas the second position accounts for Gabbai’s remarks pertaining to the significance of the Labour party’s return to the government and the defeat of the right, which Gabbai is recruiting as among his clichés within his electoral campaign. The second approach, presented as subversive to Gabbai’s statements, is also divided into two positions: The first believes that this electoral tactic is rendered ineffective and unsuccessful given a former failed experience by past heads of the Labor Party. This is whereas the second position stems from the claim that Gabbai's statements presented a contravention to the political and ideological orientations of the Zionist left generally, and the Labor Party and the "Zionist camp" particularly. A third position may be inferred, which perceived the statements uttered by Gabbai as a series of iterations from a reluctant, non-systematic and volatile character, rather than a coherent reflection of a clear trend or structured scruples.

In the midst of this debate, questions were raised about whether Gabbai and the so-called "Zionist left" could move ahead along the peace process with the Palestinians, mainly within the current political climate prevailing in Israel after many years of the Zionist right hegemony, their clear dominance over the left and their attitude towards the Palestinian case.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021


The Palestinian Forum for Israeli Studies (MADAR) is an independent research centre specialising in Israeli affairs, based in Ramallah, Palestine. MADAR was established in 2000 by a group of Palestinian intellectuals and academics, including the late poet Mahmoud Darwish, Dr. Lily Feidy, Dr. Ali Jarbawi, Dr. Ahmad Harb, Mr. Walid Al-Ahmad and Mr. Akram Haniyyeh. The centre was registered as a not-for-profit organisation with the Palestinian Ministry of Interior, and obtained a research centre’s operational licensing from the Palestinian Ministry of Information.