Left-wing Parties Approve Joint Run Despite Internal Divisions

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Esawi Freige of Meretz at a party meeting, January 14, 2020.
Esawi Freige of Meretz at a party meeting, January 14, 2020.Credit: Moti Milrod

The Labor-Gesher and Meretz parties approved Tuesday their joint run in Israel's March election for the Knesset, depite a delay in Meretz due to a petition by former lawmakers Esawi Freige and Mossi Raz to the Meretz court.

Labor chairman Amir Peretz said that "Tonight, when we confirm our historic agreement and unite into one list, Labor-Gesher-Meretz, then the warning signs will light up in Habayit Hayehudi and the office of Avigdor Lieberman. An alarm will be heard on Balfour Street. Dreams of another right-wing government will end."

Former Mks Esawi Freige and Mossi Raz had previously filed a petition to the Meretz court against the assignment of Yair Golan and Yair Fink high up on the joint ballot of Meretz and Labor-Gesher, which pushed Freige, the only Arab candidate on the list, to the 11th spot on the slate.

Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz decided to save the 8th spot on the list for Democratic Union co-founder and retired general Yair Golan.

In addition, Golan's placement left Tamar Zandberg as the only woman in Meretz holding a realistic chance at a Knesset seat on the joint Meretz and Labour-Gesher list, alongside Orli Levi-Abekasis, Merav Michaeli and Revital Swid.

Amir Peretz of Labor at a party meeting, January 14, 2020. Credit: Ofer Vaknin

Former MK Michal Rosin, the second ranking women on the Meretz list, was relegated to the 18th place, an unrealistic spot despite her party's commitment to equal representation for men and women.

Following Freige's petition, Meretz's vote to approve the agreement with Labor-Gesher and the appointments of Fink and Golan, was postponed by a few hours.

Freige strongly criticized Horowitz's approach during the party hearings: "This proposal is in complete violation of the Meretz Bylaws and Constitution." He also called Golan "a good and worthy man, my neighbor."

Freige revealed a deal recently created by Meretz officials that was allegedly violated by Horowitz, who said that Freige and the list leaders had agreed not to hold party primaries a few weeks ago, In exchange for Horowitz's commitment to ensure the status of the party's opening quartet, which included Freige himself.

"I fought to be selected as an Arab without a reservation in Meretz, and then they brought in Golan and dropped me down on the list," he claimed.

Horowitz sought to justify Golan's appointment and Freige's push to the bottom of the list. "I am very happy and proud of the agreement with Yair. Golan is very prestigious. For a long time we on the left have been trying to build partnerships with prominent figures. When they come, we must not slam the door."

"I agreed to be in third place. I was seemingly pushed down. But that's the compromise that needs to be made. When we put the national interest of all of us together with the interests of places, we clearly bypassed them," said Horowitz.

"True, not everyone is featured in the top spots and there are personal disappointments. Our way of solving this is to get more mandates," he added.

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