Meretz leader MK Zehava Galon said Wednesday she would quit if her party is reduced to four Knesset seats in the next Knesset. Gal-On spoke after 99 percent of the votes had been counted, which indeed left Meretz with four seats.
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Later Galon said she would not quit if Meretz, which had six seats in the outgoing Knesset, gets five seats after the soldiers’ and other double-envelope votes are counted.
On her Facebook page Galon took responsibility for the party’s weakening. “I said during the campaign that if Meretz succeeds it’s everyone’s success, but if it doesn’t live up to expectations I’ll take personal responsibility,” she wrote.
“So I announced this morning I was resigning and vacating my Knesset seat for my colleague Tamar Zandberg. I won’t contend for Meretz’ leadership again and remain party chairwoman until handing the position over soon.
“This is a very difficult moment for me,” Galon wrote. “I’d hoped Meretz would keep its strength and more, I hoped we could set up an alternative government and end the Netanyahu era. Regrettably this is not what happened at all. I don’t advise any of us to dare say the voters let us down. The opposite is true – we let them down. Israel’s people owe me nothing, I owe them everything.”
Despite this, Galon called on the left wing to raise its head. “Our state hasn’t closed down let me tell you something else: It may seem far, it may seem beyond the mountains of darkness, but we will return to power.”
Meretz’ No. 2, MK Ilan Gilon, seen as the leading candidate to replace Galon, and MK Zandberg called on her Wednesday to rescind her resignation and wait for the final tally. "This is really not Meretz's most urgent need right now," Gilon told Haaretz. "It could be that Meretz needs her more now than before. She's not solely responsible, there were [difficult] circumstances."
Meretz’s hope before the elections to form a left-center government led by Herzog made way for despair Wednesday. Gilon and Galon said they hoped the Meretz votes that went to Zionist Union in the surplus votes agreement will not go toward a unity government.