Labor Party Chairman Amir Peretz ruled out any potential merger with other center or left-wing parties in the country ahead of Israel's general election in September.
Peretz said on Sunday that there was no chance that his party would join forces with Ehud Barak’s party, Democratic Israel, or with Meretz.
In an interview with Army Radio, Peretz said that “merging with Barak and Meretz will deter certain populations from joining us and being part of the revolution."
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Peretz said that his party is "the social, democratic Iron Dome," referring to the Israeli air defense system designed to intercept rockets from Gaza. "I have no doubt that Meretz will be strong and significant if it remains alone,” he added.
Peretz also addressed the criticism directed at him for joining forces with Gesher’s Orli Levy-Abekasis. “I could have stayed in my comfort zone, I could have decided to listen to everyone who said this has no chance to succeed ... I pledged to my voters that I would do everything possible for us to become a political home for every Israeli, and therefore I made the less convenient decision,” he said.
On Thursday, when Peretz made the announcement that Gesher and Labor would be running jointly in the upcoming elections, he also informed Meretz that he was forgoing a joint ticket. He did so despite the fact that when he was elected chairman of Labor earlier this month, he said that the party under his leadership “would lead to connections so that we will lead a greater social, democratic and ideological force as opposed to the right wing under Netanyahu.”
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On Saturday, Peretz said that he does not rule out forming a coalition government with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party if the premier is not indicted in the corruption cases against him. “No way. If the attorney general absolves him, we’ll sit with him. If not, we won’t," he said in an interview with Channel 13.
Meanwhile, Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz blasted Labor's decision to merge with Gesher. “A vote for Labor is a vote for Netanyahu,” he said, calling on voters opposed to Netanyahu to “be careful of Peretz and Levi-Abekasis. They are the first who will bolt to a Netanyahu government.”