New Labor Leader Orders Ministers to Resign From Netanyahu's Government

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Merav Michaeli votes at the Labor Party primary election in Tel Aviv, January 24, 2021.
Merav Michaeli votes at the Labor Party primary election in Tel Aviv, January 24, 2021.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Merav Michaeli announced Monday Labor Party is leaving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government, a day after her election as party leader.

Michaeli, who won the leadership primary Sunday with 77 percent of the vote, ordered former chairman Amir Peretz, who serves as economy minister and Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Minister Itzik Shmuli to resign.

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After Israel's 2020 election, Michaeli refused to join Netanyahu's government, and split from Peretz and Shmuli, who opted for cabinet positions, despite campaign promises not to do so.

"The Labor Party is leaving the corrupt Netanyahu-Gantz government," Michaeli said. "I told Peretz and Shmuli they must resign immediately. The Labor Party is starting over."

Former Labor Chairman Amir Peretz votes at the party's primary election in Sderot, January 24, 2021.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

It remains unclear whether both ministers will heed to Michaeli's request. Both Peretz and Shmuli had announced they would not run for party chairman, with Peretz saying he wouldn't run for a Knesset seat either. Shmuli has hinted he may join Benny Gantz's Kahol Lavan party.

In Sunday's primary election, held two months before Israel holds its fourth general election in two years, businessman Avi Shaked, a close associate of 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.

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."

A Channel 13 News poll released on Sunday showed the Labor Party under Michaeli's leadership passing the electoral threshold for the first time since the March 23 election was announced.

Also on Monday, former Kahol Lavan lawmaker Ram Shefa announced he would be joining Labor and run in the primary election for the party’s Knesset slate, which will be held later on.

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