(JTA) — Avi Gabbay will lead Israel’s Labour party after defeating his opponent in the second round of primaries.
On Monday evening, Gabbay, who switched to the center-left Labor party several months ago from Kulanu, a smaller center-right party, won the election to head the party, garnering 52 percent of the vote. His opponent, Amir Peretz, a former Labor head and defense minister got 47 percent of the vote.
Gabbay, a former environmental protection minister who was seen as a dark horse candidate in the Labor race, and Peretz advanced to the second round of voting after beating current opposition leader Isaac Herzog in the first party primaries last week. In the first round, Peretz got 33 percent of the vote, Gabbay got 27 percent and Herzog, who has served as the party’s chief for one four-year term, got 16 percent.
Labor currently serves in the Knesset as part of the opposition bloc Zionist Union in partnership with the small Hatnua party of former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. Zionist Union holds 24 seats in the 120-member parliament.