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Several New Movement-Meretz members called on party chairman MK Haim Oron to give up his Knesset seat, during a meeting of the party's leadership in Tel Aviv yesterday.

The demands came after Zahava Gal-On lost her Knesset seat when the recently merged party dropped from five seats to three in last week's election.

"Meretz, which waved the flag of gender equality, cannot be represented only by men in the Knesset. In addition, our female MKs -- and Meretz has proven this -- are committed to the subject, as opposed to other female MKs who don't deliver the goods," said Michal Eden, who heads the Meretz women's forum.

Eden said she called on Oron, also known by his nickname, Jumes, to give up his Knesset seat in Gal-On's favor, though not to resign as party chairman. "Just as Jumes asked us to compromise so as to make room for others [in the New Movement], he has to do the same thing," she said.

Left out in the cold

Gal-On gave up her No. 3 seat in favor of a New Movement representative, Channel 10 journalist Nitzan Horowitz.

Horowitz said most of the speakers at the meeting supported Oron, "and said the worst thing from the perspective of the left is to continue brawling now, after the blow."

Other activists objected to the focus on Gal-On and the personal attacks at the meeting, which was closed to the press, and said people should be focusing on rehabilitating Meretz instead.

"I was disappointed by the atmosphere," said meeting participant Shoshana Tzur. "I get upset when I see all the petitions and concern over personality and not the party."

"I think there's an organized campaign on the part of Zahava's people," said incoming MK Ilan Gilon, No. 2 on the party's ticket. "I was angered by the personal atmosphere inside. We deeply regret our situation today. Next time will be better, because it can't get worse."

Oron focused on moving the party forward. "For me, responsibility means acting to rehabilitate Meretz," he said at the meeting, according to a later released statement. "I have decided not to resign unless a decision is made in an organized Meretz institution."

The party decided a proposal would be raised at the next leadership meeting regarding how to assess the election results and how to examine ways to rebuild the party ahead of the next election.