ANALYSIS: Israel’s opposition shedding high-profile names

Two politicians stand down from Labour Party as coalition government appears more stable than ever


Avi Gabbay, the new Labour leader, has a mountain to climb in rebuilding Israel’s embattled opposition, as two high-profile resignations this month have underlined.

Professor Manuel Trajtenberg, an economist who was the party’s candidate for finance minister in the 2015 election, announced he would leave the Knesset to spend more time researching the social and economic challenges facing Israel. Also leave is Erel Margalit, the venture capitalist and social entrepreneur who twice ran for Labour’s leadership, so he can focus on investing in technological ventures in the Negev and Galilee.

The resignations, coming days apart, have underlined the stasis on the Israeli political scene. Despite the criminal investigations accumulating against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he is showing no signs of budging in the near future.

The election of newcomer Mr Gabbay as Labour leader has brought a revival for the party in the polls, but this has been at the expense of centrist Yesh Atid, another opposition party. None of the polls have shown Likud and the rest of its right-wing-religious coalition losing votes to the centre-left opposition.

In recent days, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, leader of centre-right Kulanu, has launched a new tax plan and initial discussions on the 2019 budget. A clear sign that even Mr Kahlon, a critic of the prime minister, believes the government is sufficiently stable to remain in power for another two years until the end of its term.

Small wonder that opposition politicians who believe they can accomplish more outside politics are leaving.

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