Former General Yair Golan Formally Joins Meretz, but Doesn't Seek to Unseat Party Leader

Golan, who ran on the Israeli left-wing party's list in the last election, says 'Meretz is the only party that has never lied to or betrayed its voters'

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Yair Golan addressing a Black Flag movement protest in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, April 19, 2020
Yair Golan addressing a Black Flag movement protest in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, April 19, 2020 Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Yair Golan announced on Monday that he is formally joining left-wing party Meretz, setting the ground for an election campaign should the Knesset vote to dissolve itself and Israelis will head to the polls for the fourth time in two years.

In the last election, Golan ran with Meretz on the same list but did not officially join the party. Golan said at Monday’s Meretz faction meeting that “there is no reason to establish more parties on the left” and that “Meretz is the only party that has never lied to or betrayed its voters.”

Why Israel’s anti-Bibi left is so lost – and chasing yet another general as its Messiah. LISTENCredit: Haaretz

Golan and current Meretz chairman Nitzan Horowitz reportedly agreed that Golan would not compete for the party leadership as long as Horowitz is serving, and would only run for a spot on the party Knesset slate.

Over the weekend, Golan said in an interview with Haaretz that he would run for the Meretz leadership if the election is held in June.

In the interview, Golan criticized Meretz for “insisting on remaining a small, separate and purist party. It lacks a real desire for power, or to be part of the government.” He went on to say: “Certain forces are trying to drag it into becoming a Jewish-Arab party. These forces need to be calmed and silenced, as I will do my utmost to do in the coming months.”

On Monday, Golan said, “Meretz is the only party that has remained true to its fundamental values: seeking peace, equality, social justice, Jewish-Arab partnership, freedom of religion and freedom from religion.”

Meretz is trying to add other candidates to its list, including some current and former MKs from other parties. But nothing is likely to be finalized until the political map becomes clearer.

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid called on the centrist parties to unite under his party’s leadership. “We’re the only ones with a chance of winning. Decide what you want to do – complain or win. If you want to win, only Yesh Atid can do it.” Lapid added: “I say to the entire center camp – look at the right, we can learn something from them. As soon as it smells an election, the right says one thing: I want to win. It puts everything else aside. That’s what our camp must do now – unite behind Yesh Atid, go out and win.”

At the Kahol Lavan faction meeting, Benny Gantz said that if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu takes Israel to another election, he’ll see to it that it will be “as inexpensive as possible, as quick as possible and as clean as possible.”

The bill submitted by the opposition factions to dissolve the Knesset passed its preliminary vote last week, with the support of Kahol Lavan. Now the Knesset House Committee, chaired by Kahol Lavan MK Eitan Ginzburg, can determine the pace of the bill’s progression and delay or accelerate it depending on how talks proceed with Netanyahu.

Gantz said Saturday that he intends to lead the centrist camp and that Lapid could not form a government. Lapid said he will lead the bloc and that he also intends to bring to a vote again the bill prohibiting someone under criminal indictment from forming a government, to prevent Netanyahu from serving as prime minister after the election.

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