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Israel centre-left parties discuss election merger

January 8, 2020 at 12:24 pm

A man casts his vote during the Israeli general elections in Tel Aviv on 9 April 2019 [Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Anadolu Agency]

Two Israeli centre-left opposition parties, Labor and Meretz, are “expected to discuss the possibility of running together in the upcoming Knesset election”, reported Haaretz, citing “sources familiar with talks between the two parties”.

According to the report, “negotiating teams on their behalf – or the two leaders themselves – are expected to meet in the next few days, in advance of the deadline for formal submission of party slates to the Central Elections Committee, in nine days’ time.”

Israelis go to the polls in March for the third national elections in a year, after the previous two elections resulted in political stalemate and a failure to form a coalition government.

Currently, both Labor and Meretz are also “concerned that running together could bear a heavy price”, with Labor anxious not to lose seats from so-called “soft right” voters and those who backed the party last time round “because of its merger with Orli Levi-Abekasis’ Gesher”.

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Meretz, meanwhile, led by Nitzan Horowitz, is reportedly concerned that “Labor’s ostensible willingness to enter negotiations with it is merely a ploy by the party’s leader, Amir Peretz, to reduce his colleagues’ pressure on him to attempt a unification.”

In addition, Haaretz added, “some polls indicate that the parties would both get more votes than they did in the September election if they run separately in March.”

The paper explained that if Labor and Meretz do indeed want to collaborate, “their party committees have to pass a resolution to that effect”, and “under Labor regulations, a meeting of members must be called 72 hours in advance”.

Thus, given the deadline, “any agreement would have to be reached by the end of this week, or very early next week at the latest”.

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In the meantime, the report added, those in Meretz doubtful of a union with Labor “are concentrating on creating a new Democratic Union ticket”, including both the Democratic Israel list and Stav Shaffir of the Green Movement.

Shaffir left Labor in the summer of 2019 and was second on the Democratic Union slate in September’s election.