Left-wing Leader Zehava Galon Announces Resignation From Knesset

Seeing her attempted reforms to open up the party and 'inject new blood on the left' fail repeatedly, Galon says she will stay on as party chairwoman

Meretz chairwoman Zehava Galon in a 2015 Knesset hearing.
Olivier Fitoussi

Zehava Galon, the leader of the left-wing Meretz party, announced her resignation from the Knesset on Wednesday. Galon, who will be replaced in the Knesset by Meretz secretary-general Mossi Raz, will continue to serve as chairwoman of the party.

"I believe that I must invest all my energy in the struggle to increase our power as a party and political bloc, by opening the ranks to new audiences," she wrote in a long Facebook post. "Meretz cannot exist as a closed club that ignores you – its voters and supporters – and blocks additional forces to take part in our struggle and inject new blood on the left."

In recent months, Galon has been trying to change her party's electoral system to open primaries, in which non-members could choose the party's leader. Her proposal was voted down by the party twice. Last month, she lost yet another vote when the party voted against holding new party leadership elections and shortening terms of service.

New elections will be held for the Meretz party on October 26. Her resignation is being received as a demonstration of her seriousness to change the party's electoral system – she had previously announced she would resign should her proposals to change the system fail.

Meretz Chairwoman Zehava Galon and MK Ilan Gilon at a party conference in September 2017.
David Bachar

Still, many party members are surprised by her resignation.

MK Ilan Gilon said: "Zehava Galon was an excellent Knesset member; it's a shame she decided to resign, and I regret this strange move. Zehava made a significant contribution to the struggle to eradicate human trafficking, human rights and civil rights and will be missed by Meretz and the Knesset." Her previous competitor for the Meretz leadership, Gilonenjoys popularity among the party's youth.

MK Shelly Yachimovitch (Zionist Union) said, "Zahava Galon's resignation saddens me personally, but mainly this is a great loss to the Knesset and to the public, and we hope it will be temporary."