Israel’s Labor Elects Newcomer Gabbay as Party Leader

Israel’s Labor Party has elected political newcomer Avi Gabbay as its new leader, with hopes to revive its fortunes after 16 years in the opposition.

Gabbay, 50, defeated Amir Peretz, a former party leader and defense minister, by a small margin in a runoff vote Monday.

Gabbay served a brief stint as environment minister under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but later resigned. A former telecom executive, Gabbay stresses his humble beginnings. He was the seventh of eight children born to immigrants from Morocco.

Labor, the party of David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir and Yitzhak Rabin, dominated Israeli politics in the decades after independence, but has languished in the opposition since 2001.

The next national election is scheduled for late 2019. Labor currently polls as Israel’s fourth or fifth-largest party.

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