Israel's Labor Party submitted on Saturday a formal request to dissolve its short-lived alliance with left-wing Meretz, effectively clearing Labor's way to join a government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, alongside Benny Gantz's Kahol Lavan.
The anticipated move drew harsh criticism from Meretz Chairman Nitzan Horowitz, who said Labor's Amir Peretz has "abused the trust of hundreds of thousands of voters, crawling into the arms of the defendant from [the Prime Minister’s Residence on] Balfour Street for a job in a right-wing government."
Horowitz also called Labor members to join forces with his party "to form a clear, decisive alternative to right-wing rule."
Meretz lawmaker Tamar Zandberg said Peretz "cheated his voters … and rode on the Israeli left's back all the way to a lame job in a despicable government."
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She called on Labor’s Merav Michaeli, who said she would not join a Netanyahu-led government, to "join us and lead the ideological left in the Knesset together."
Labor, then part of an allience with Orli Levi-Aberkasis' Gesher, joined forces with Meretz ahead of the March 2 election. Levi-Aberkasis announced last month that she was leaving the slate, citing her opposition to a proposed minority government, backed by Arab-majority alliance Joint List.
Peretz vowed during the election campaign not to join a Netanyahu-led government, citing the premier's pending corruption trial.
Haaretz reported on Monday that Peretz was set to join a unity government led by Netanyahu and would be appointed economy and industry minister, following a Sunday meeting with representatives of Gantz’s Kahol Lavan party.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu and Gantz met on Friday in Jerusalem to continue talks to form the unity government. A joint statement by their parties said they "instructed their negotiation teams to try and finalize a coalition agreement as soon as possible."