MK Shelly Yacimovich (Zionist Union) said over the weekend she feared a link-up with the left-wing Meretz party wouldn’t be greater than the sum of its parts.
- Labor, Meretz, and the politics of compromise
- Israeli Arab leader: Right says 'death to Arabs', but the left will be the death of us
- Rivlin mediating between Netanyahu, Herzog over possible unity government
Yacimovich is a former leader of the Labor Party, the main component of Zionist Union. At a conference held by Peace Now on Friday, the former journalist commented on speculation that Meretz would move a shade to the right by linking up with Zionist Union.
“I’m not convinced that this would be the right move. I don’t rule out the option and it should be courageously examined,” she said.
“The ultimate question is whether the whole would be greater or smaller than the sum of the parts. I fear that it wouldn’t be greater,” Yacimovich said, adding that she believed that some Israelis needed Meretz and “can’t vote Labor.”
“We shouldn’t take that away from them. On the other hand, many Labor voters would never vote for Meretz,” she said. “I see Meretz as our beloved little sister — I don’t think uniting would increase our strength. It’s healthy that Meretz remains on the left.”
Meretz leader Zahava Galon had said at a party convention that she did not rule out Meretz’s joining another party or parties in the next election.
At the Peace Now conference, Yacimovich and Galon spoke in a panel discussion with the head of the Joint Arab List, Ayman Odeh. Galon said she regarded Yacimovich and Odeh as partners whatever the political configuration.
“I’m not relinquishing Meretz’s unique voice, but I think it’s time to drop purism, self-righteousness and narrow constraints and consider how we can work as a bloc, not as a party,” Galon said.
“The question is how to form a significant force with one main target. I’m not joining or marrying anyone, I’m merely trying to form a strong alliance.”
For the center-left’s voice to be heard, a wide democratic front was necessary, she said.
“The question is what needs to be done and how to organize in order to win the next election and replace the government. I’m talking about cooperation both in the Knesset and outside it,” Galon said.
“Meretz is staying, but we have to consider cooperation. The public has to get the message that a change in government is necessary.”
In the panel discussion, journalist Amnon Abramovich suggested to Galon that she consider linking up with a party even further to the left, the Arab-Jewish Hadash. He suggested to Odeh that he consider Meretz instead of Balad, an Arab nationalist component of the Join Arab List.
“We have already united — I think Meretz is vital for Israeli society. Of course, alliances with Meretz are important, such as in the struggle against the occupation, and for democracy and social justice," Odeh told Haaretz.
"But we won’t run together. I wouldn’t be happy if Meretz joined the Zionist Union and shifted to the right, but if the Zionist Union moved to the left I’d be happy.”