Labor Party chair Amir Peretz "is trying to project a business-as-usual attitude", reported Haaretz, following the election merger between Meretz, Ehud Barak's Israel Democratic Party (Yisrael Demokratit), and former Labor parliamentarian Stav Shaffir.
According to the report, Peretz is "confident in the path he has chosen", namely a union between Labor and Orli Levi-Abekasis's Gesher party – even though some forecasts suggest Labor-Gesher will not even cross the electoral threshold.
"In closed-door meetings, Peretz claimed that the Democratic Union party is a passing trend," Haaretz reported.
The Labor leader believes that "voters in Israel's periphery, including those from the Arab, Bedouin and Druze public, will flock to him once the Labor Party launches its targeted campaign focused on social issues."
Peretz also "said that with the two seats they expect to gain from Kulanu voters, they will form an obstructive bloc, even without Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beiteinu party," the paper added.
"I will not unite with Meretz and Barak, because those are two different paths," Peretz said in an interview with Israel's Channel 12 last night.
"If I were to join-up with the Democratic Union today, I would be doing the worst possible thing for replacing Netanyahu. The votes they're getting are from Kahol Lavan, this is a zero-sum game. Our path gives us a chance to bring in votes from the right-wing of the political map," Peretz continued.
Election polls published after the announcement of the Democratic Union merger projected that the Meretz-Barak-Shaffir alliance would gain anywhere between ten and 12 Knesset seats. Meanwhile, the Labor-Gesher list is expected to receive seven Knesset seats.
The polls continue to show a tight race between Likud and Blue and White (Kahol Lavan), with the former gaining 28-29 seats, and the latter gaining 23-27 seats.
Further developments are possible ahead of the final election lists being finalised next week, including a merger of some or all of the factions to the right of Likud, as well as an agreement between Arab parties to reconstitute the Joint List.