Meretz party leader Zahava Gal-on called on center-left Knesset parties to join her faction in a united front that commits to not joining a future Likud-Beytenu government that, she charged, would be both stubborn and racist.
Speaking at a party press conference in Tel Aviv on Sunday, Gal-on made a personal appeal to Labor leader Shelly Yachimovich, Hatnua founder Tzipi Livni, and Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid, who represent Israel’s major center-left parties.
“Shelly, Tzipi, Yair, come home to me, and together we will commit to not selling out the votes of Israeli citizens to a government under Likud-Beytenu,” Gal-on said. She added that her staunchly left-wing Meretz party will publicly commit to not joining a coalition with the right.
“Meretz will today sign a binding contract with the public, and it won’t sell out to the right,” Gal-on said in comments reported by Maariv. “The party commits that, whoever votes for it, that selfsame vote will be used to fight against the stubborn and racist Likud-Beytenu government.”
Gal-on called on the center-left parties to likewise commit to not joining a coalition with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Commit to not selling out the voice of the left in return for government portfolios,” Gal-on said. “Come home to me, and we will agree to form a bloc against Bibi [Netanyahu], a bloc against racism, and a bloc against a political stalemate… a bloc in favor of democracy, in favor of negotiations, in favor of social justice, and in favor of peace.”
The Likud party under Netanyahu is campaigning on a joint list together with Yisrael Beytenu, the party led by recently resigned, former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman.
“I can’t believe that Yachimovich and Livni want to sit with Netanyahu and Liberman,” said Tamar Zandberg, who is sixth on the Meretz party list. “By doing so, they are legitimizing hatred and racism.”
Recent polls showed that Labor, Hatnua, and Yesh Atid could win 39 Knesset seats between them in the coming January elections.
Gal-on is not the first to call for a left-wing bloc against the formidable Likud-Beytenu pact, which is expected to win around 35 seats. However, recent media reports of negotiations among the leading center-left parties to work together against a right-wing government after the election did not include Meretz, which is predicted to win just four seats.