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The Meretz central committee yesterday approved joining the new leftist party by a large majority.

Although 87 percent of the central committee voted for the move, some people voiced criticism over the fact that Meretz candidates ranked in last week's primary would get lower slots on the combined party's Knesset list, in order to accommodate candidates from the new partner.

Meretz chairman MK Haim Oron responded, "The number 10 slot on the new list is more secure than number seven on the Meretz list."

Television journalist Nitzan Horowitz, who won the third spot on the new list, spoke at the central committee meeting, saying he hoped the new list would bring in voters who described themselves as disgusted with politics. The room cheered when Horowitz talked about his socialist economic views.

The author Amos Oz praised the new list at the meeting, and attacked Labor Party chairman Ehud Barak, whom he said "for two years as defense minister didn't remove even one outpost. What kind of a leader is he, allowing the hilltop thugs to abuse Palestinians and Israel Defense Forces soldiers? What kind of a leader is he, proposing himself as a junior partner in a coalition with Netanyahu?"

Those who oppose the union include Isawi Freij, who was bumped from Meretz's seventh place, reserved for an Arab representative.

The Labor Party called Oz's remarks "bizarre" and said they "showed Meretz's lack of relevence to what is going on in Israel."