Manuel Trajtenberg and Erel Margalit, two Israeli politicians, resigned from the Israeli parliament, known as the Knesset, last week. Both were members of the Labor Party and did not explicitly state their reasons for departure.
Prior to their resignations, Trajtenberg served in the Knesset for two years and Margalit for nearly five. Before entering politics, Trajtenberg was an economics and sociology professor at the Tel Aviv University School of Economics, and Margalit was a successful venture capitalist.
In announcing their respective resignations, both politicians also expressed their commitment to improving Israel’s future.
“This is therefore a timeout and not a retirement from public life, and it is possible I will yet be able to return to political life itself,” Trajtenberg said in an official statement. In a social media post, he hinted at the reason for his resignation. Since 2015, Israel’s Labor Party has been in the minority against the ruling Likud Party, making it much more difficult for it to create and pass policy. “I found myself in the opposition benches, adapting to a difficult transition from the role of formulating and implementing policies to parliamentary work,” Trajtenberg wrote on Facebook.
Margalit’s statement similarly emphasized his continuing efforts to participate in public life and better Israeli society. He announced that he would be returning to the Bakehila Foundation, an organization he started with his wife over a decade ago. “The foundation seeks to change the realities of tens of thousands of children through education and community, and gives them a real shot at success,” he explained. Although Margalit did not specify his reason for leaving, he did mention his past bid to become head of the Labor Party in 2015, which he lost to Avi Gabbay.
Since then, the Israeli Labor Party has undergone significant changes that have granted greater power to Gabbay. In September, the party’s constitution was amended to give the head of the party full administrative responsibility, which includes substantial financial authority. Some party members are worried about these changes and what they mean regarding Gabbay’s future plans and the direction of the party as a whole.
“None of us has any idea what he plans to do or whom he plans to bring in, and the truth is we have no way to influence him about it,” one senior Labor Party member admitted.
It is amid this inner turmoil that Trajtenberg and Margalit have resigned, and both already have replacements. Salah Sa’ad, a Druze activist, will take the place of Trajtenberg while Margalit will be succeededby Lea Fadida, the Deputy Mayor of the Israeli city of Yokne’am.