Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz announced on Tuesday that he will not be competing again for the leadership of the left-wing Meretz party in the upcoming primaries, but will be part of the party's slate in the upcoming election.
Horowitz said he is very proud of his achievements with Meretz, adding that, "We were a part of a historic government that saved Israeli democracy."
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"I will not resign nor will I leave political life. I will run for the next Knesset, and I will certainly continue in my term as Health Minister," Horowitz said.
Meretz lawmaker Mossi Raz thanked Horowitz for leading Meretz through three difficult election cycles. "Nitzan is one of the best health ministers in Israel's history," Raz wrote on Twitter. "I hope he keeps this position in the next government as well for the sake of all Israeli citizens."
The party’s elections committee is set to meet in the next two weeks to set a date for a leadership primary and decide on its slate for the upcoming November election.
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Last week, Deputy Economy Minister Yair Golan announced his plan to challenge Horowitz for the post of Meretz party leader, saying his goal was “to build a proud Zionist left."
Golan’s announcement came a day after Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Freige, criticized Horowitz, saying he had failed the test of leadership. In an interview with Channel 12 News, he praised Horowitz as a man of values, but added: “He brought us six seats but didn’t know how to hold onto them. Nitzan failed the test of leadership. … He can be a great lawmaker, an excellent party member, and he has values, but a leader he is not.”
Freige called on former Meretz head Zehava Galon to return to the job of party leader. "She’s the only one who can unite the ranks inside Meretz and ensure that Meretz remains alive and kicking,” Freige said.