Dozens of intellectuals, academics, political and social activists and public figures are supporting an initiative to establish a new, social-democratic party. A founding meeting is to be held in Tel Aviv in two weeks.
The initiative is led by Naftali Raz, a founder of Peace Now and a former party worker on behalf of Mapam, Meretz and Labor. Raz is considered close to Amram Mitzna and was a leading field organizers in Mitzna's campaigns for Labor chairman and for prime minister. Writer Amos Oz is also listed among the supporters.
In a recent blog, Raz wrote that the new party will be center-left, motivated by the principles of peace, social justice, equality, education and clean politics.
Speaking to Haaretz, Raz confirmed the reports and said the idea was developed over the past few months, in cooperation with other individuals. Raz added that he has been trying to persuade Mitzna to join or possibly even to lead the new party and it. Raz said that Mitzna expressed his support for the initiative but did not promise to join.
Mitzna said in response that he is not involved in the initiative and that he has not yet decided whether to attend the founding meeting.
"I meet with all sorts of bodies and people," Mitzna said. "I am studying the situation and when the time comes I will decide," Mitzna said.
"I very much hope that Mitzna will decide in favor, but this initiative is not only dependent on him," Raz said.
"With him not only can we create a new party, but also a large and powerful opposition that can hurt the government. We of course must prepare for the possibility that Mitzna will turn this down, and then we will need to choose a different leader from within this respected group," Raz said.
He admitted that without Mitzna the new party is less likely to succeed but said he is sure it will be formed.
"It will contain so much hope from so many directions. There are so many groups involved. The only thing I say with certainty is that this cannot just disappear," Raz said.
The first gathering will be an invitation-only affair, and will be closed to the media. The purpose of the meeting will be to reach agreement on how to move toward establishing a party.
"We are in a marathon, not a sprint," Raz said. "We do not want to repeat mistakes of the past, neither ours nor those by people like us."