Merav Michaeli won the leadership primary of the Labor Party Sunday with 77 percent of the vote, two months before Israel holds its fourth election in two years.
Businessman Avi Shaked, a close associate of former Chairman Amir Peretz, received 19 percent of the vote. Gil Beilin, the son of former minister Yossi Beilin, won two percent of the vote. Of the 37,000 eligible Labor primary voters, 8,500, or 23 percent, participated in the leadership primary.
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The primary for the party’s full Knesset slate will be held later on.
Speaking after her victory in the primary, Michaeli said, "I'm calling on every one who feels that politics doesn't represent her, to everyone who feels that politics doesn't make room for his voice – come home."
Peretz congratulated Michaeli on her win, and wished her luck. Ron Huldai, chairman of the new The Israelis party, also welcomed her win, calling Michaeli "an important leader" and saying that his party will immediately hold talks with her "about building a big house for the entire center-left."
He added, "we will unite in order to defeat Netanyahu and bring about change to the State of Israel. This is what the public expects from us and this is what we'll do."
Ofer Shelah, who left Yesh Atid to start his own party, also congratulated "his friend" Michaeli, "who walked the straight path and won. Now is the time to act and to link up quickly with no hesitation."
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The polling stations were open between 11 A.M. and 7 P.M.. Coronavirus regulations permit people to exceed the lockdown travel restriction of one kilometer from home to vote in the primary.
Shmuli explained in a Facebook post that he opposed the decision to hold an internal election for the party slate just days before the Knesset slates are finalized on February 4, because it would reduce the chance to form alliances between center-left parties.
The Tel Aviv District Court struck down a decision earlier this month by the Labor Party’s Central Committee – a small administrative body numbering only a few thousand voters – to cancel the primary for party leader and Knesset roster. The move to cancel it was led by Peretz, and the matter went to court after Michaeli and about 100 activists opposed the committee’s decision. Peretz and the party’s secretary general, Eran Hermoni, petitioned against the ruling in favor of the activists to the Supreme Court, but withdrew their petition at the last moment.