The Israeli Labor party has spurned an electoral partnership with Meretz, announcing yesterday a unified list with Gesher, the party founded by former Yisrael Beiteinu MK Orly Levy-Abekasis.
At a Tel Aviv press conference, Labor chair Amir Peretz and Levy-Abekasis revealed that the two parties would run on a unified list in the 17 September election, reported the Jerusalem Post.
According to the agreement, the top ten places in the list – which will be called Labor-Gesher – will include seven seats of Labor candidates, and three from Gesher.
"We have found a way to unite and build a political home where there is room for all Israelis," Peretz said at the press conference, calling Levy-Abekasis a "woman with a broad view of social justice". Peretz told journalists that the unified list would focus on socioeconomic issues.
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The announcement yesterday "ended hope for a combined Labor-Meretz list", the Jerusalem Post noted, with Meretz official reportedly outraged "at the rejection". MK Essawi Frej called Levy-Abecassis "a fig leaf for racists" in her former Yisrael Beiteinu party, headed by Avigdor Lieberman.
"Amir Peretz is repeating [former Labor leader] Avi Gabbay's mistake and is destroying the chances of unions in the left bloc," Meretz said in response to the news of a Labor-Gesher list. "Instead of a large union, he chose a small defence".
The Jerusalem Post added that "Peretz and Levy-Abecassis agreed that there would be no further mergers for their parties but individuals could still be invited to join."
Blue and White – currently the largest opposition bloc in the Knesset – welcomed the Labor-Gesher union, adding: "Labor, headed by Peretz and Levy, will join the unity government that will form".