Labor Party

Leader: Avi Gabbay
Current Seats: 19
Government/Opposition in Last Knesset: Opposition
Supports/Opposes Two-State Solution: Supports

The Labor Party is currently Israel’s biggest center-left party. After Israel’s founding, the party and its predecessors governed Israel uninterrupted for almost thirty years. However, Labor has not held the premiership in almost two decades, when Ehud Barak led the government (1999-2001).

Labor ran a joint list, the Zionist Union, with Tzipi Livni's Hatnuah in 2015. On January 1, Labor head Avi Gabbay dissolved the union.

The Labor Party emerged from a series of socialist and social-democratic parties, although its leftist economic bent has been subdued in recent decades. Under Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, the party launched the Oslo peace process with the Palestinians, and Ehud Barak became the first Israeli prime minister to formally support a two-state solution. As Israeli public confidence in a final status agreement wanes, the party has downplayed the issue of two states, with some Labor members expressing doubts about the timeline for the creation of an independent Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza.

Avi Gabbay left the government and the Kulanu party in 2016. He switched to Labor and secured the party chairmanship in 2017. Now his future is uncertain.

In the 2015 election, Labor organized a joint list, the Zionist Union, with Tzipi Livni’s Hatnuah, winning 24 seats and becoming the second-largest faction in the Knesset. Labor’s current leader, Avi Gabbay (elected 2017) had a less convivial relationship with Livni than his predecessor, Isaac Herzog. In early January, Gabbay dissolved the Zionist Union, dismissing Livni and Hatnuah in a televised press conference in early January. The move has proven controversial among Labor members, who have seen their poll numbers drop under Gabbay. Many view his treatment of Livni as unceremonious and crass, and it is speculated that Gabbay could be deposed in Labor’s February primaries.

Since the breakup with Livni, Labor MK Shelly Yachimovich has served as leader of the opposition.