Barak meets with Labor head amid push for united center-left bloc
Former PM and Amir Peretz promise to continue talks for joint slate; latter reportedly also seeking to team up with ex-MK Orly Levy-Abekasis
Former prime minister Ehud Barak met Wednesday with newly elected Labor chief Amir Peretz — part of Barak’s pushes to form a united bloc of center-left parties ahead of general elections in September.
“The conversation was conducted with mutual respect and in a very positive atmosphere. Amir and I agreed to continue to converse with each other in the coming days,” Barak wrote on Twitter.
Barak said he had also spoken recently with “many people in the center-left bloc,” without elaborating.
Peretz described the meeting as a continuation of their past talks, echoing Barak’s comments and saying it was held in “mutual respect.”
Barak, who formerly led Labor, announced his political comeback last month after a six-year hiatus, launching the Israel Democratic Party. He has called repeatedly for parties on the center-left to run on a joint list, which he says is necessary to unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
While no alliances have been formed, a number of parties expressed interest and Peretz signaled he would be willing to let Barak lead the joint slate in order to bring about the united bloc. Barak also said he would be willing to give up the top slot on a joint list.
Besides Labor, Barak said he is also interested in joining forces with the left-wing Meretz party and former foreign minister Tzipi Livni.
Meanwhile, the Blue and White party, which finished second to Netanyahu’s Likud in April’s elections, has not reacted enthusiastically to the prospect of merging with Barak’s slate.
Alongside his talks with Barak, Channel 12 reported Wednesday that Peretz is interested in teaming up with former MK Orly Levy-Abekasis and offered they run together on a joint slate.
The report said the two have spoken by telephone multiple times and are set to meet next week.
Levy-Abekasis, whose Gesher party failed to clear the minimum electoral threshold in April’s vote, is also reportedly being courted by Likud and Blue and White.