Sources in Meretz and Labor said on Thursday the two parties would not form a joint Knesset list to form a center-left bloc in the upcoming elections. Labor officials are in talks for setting up a joint list with Yesh Atid, Hatnuah and Kadima, and according to assessments, the four parties will decide by next week whether to form an alliance for establishing a centrist bloc. A major question that remains unanswered is which party will head the bloc and who will be its candidate for prime minister. Labor officials believe that if the left-wing Meretz runs alone, this will helpfully put Labor at the center in public opinion and blur its identity as a left-wing party, as the centrist bloc is established on the political map.
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At the same time, Meretz officials believe that if their party runs on its own in the elections, it will win more seats than it would if it ran in conjunction with Labor or a centrist bloc. Still, Meretz officials say they intend to cooperate with the centrist parties in a joint campaign entitled “Anyone but Bibi,” and focus the public debate on voting him out. Labor chairman Isaac Herzog, Meretz chairwoman Zahava Gal-On and the members of their parties have already begun using that slogan in their speeches.
Yesterday Herzog did not rule out the possibility of cooperating with Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu or the new party being set up by former Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon in order to vote Netanyahu out. “Everyone is talking to everyone else and nobody is ruling out [the option of cooperating],” he said. “Everybody on the spectrum between Meretz and Lieberman can settle scores with the coalition.”
But both Herzog and Yesh Atid chairman Lapid, who was fired as finance minister, refuse to state publicly that they will not sit with Netanyahu in the next government. It is believed that if a centrist bloc should be established in the end, its leaders could promise not to serve under Netanyahu in an effort to entrench in public awareness their disgust with him, and the fact that he will have a hard time forming a coalition if he should be elected.