Results Announced in Israeli Left-wing Party Meretz's First-ever Primaries

MK Ilan Gilon, MK Michal Rozin, and MK Esawi Freige retain place in top five of party ticket, while Ali Salalha, a school principal in a Druze village, will be fifth

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
Primaries for Meretz, February 14, 2018.
Primaries for Meretz, February 14, 2018.Credit: Meged Gozani
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

The first-ever primary election for Israeli left-wing Meretz party on Thursday saw MK Ilan Gilon, MK Michal Rozin, and MK Esawi Freige retaining their place among the first five slots on the party's slate.

The top slot on the party's ticket is reserved for Meretz Chairwoman Tamar Zandberg.

Eighty-three percent of eligible voters cast ballots as candidates vied for a high enough on the party ticket to have a reasonable chance of securing a Knesset seat as polls project the party will hold on to its current five seats in the April 9 national election.

it was the party's first-ever open primaries. Previously, a central committee of 1,000 party members chose the ticket.

Ali Salalha, a school principal in the Druze village of Beit Jann, will be fifth on the party's slate, in the position reserved for a new face. The following spots were won by, in order, former deputy mayor of Tel Aviv Mehereta Baruch-Ron; MK Mossi Raz; Avi Buskila, who ran against Zandberg for the party's leadership last year; renowned human rights attorney Gaby Lasky; and Avi Dabush, head of the Meretz branch in Israel's outlining areas.

>> Boxed in on left and right, Meretz heads to primary election | Analysis

The party did not reserve a slot for an Arab candidate this time around, but Freige only dropped one place on the ticket. Party sources estimate that his prominent place on the ticket brought Meretz about half-a-seat’s worth of Arab voters in the last election.

Candidates who did not enter the top ten included former Peace Now head Yariv Oppenheimer, LGBTQ activist Anat Nir, and Kibbutz representative Yaniv Sagee.

The primaries are expected to contribute to an internal debate regarding the line the party will lead, with some hoping to continue the previous chairwoman's line of focusing on the Israel-Palestine conflict and others trying to push for a social platform, which Gilon is leading.

Meretz’s small size makes it a marginal factor in the parliamentary opposition, but its MKs have typically been very active legislators. Rozin, for instance, managed to push through 18 laws, including amendments to the sexual harassment law. She also spearheaded the fight against annexationist legislation in the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee.

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