Reaches out to Labor-Gesher, Blue and White

Barak urges union of all center-left parties on combined slate for elections

Democratic Camp’s ex-PM says his party would join any alliance with the common goal of changing history

Screen capture from video of Democratic Camp member Ehud Barak appealing for parties in the left camp to unite ahead of Knesset elections, July 30, 2019. (Twitter)
Screen capture from video of Democratic Camp member Ehud Barak appealing for parties in the left camp to unite ahead of Knesset elections, July 30, 2019. (Twitter)

Democratic Camp party senior member Ehud Barak on Tuesday called for a broad union of all major parties in the center and left ahead of the upcoming September 17 elections.

His plea came a day after three nationalist right-wing parties announced a merger deal, and four Arab parties finalized their run on a joint slate.

Alliances are seen as a way to prevent votes being wasted in support for several parties that share common political goals.

In a video posted to his Twitter account, Barak, a former prime minister and military chief, warned that while “history is within reach, so is missing [the opportunity].”

Barak directed his remarks at the leaders of the centrist Blue and White Party, as well as chiefs of the center-left Labor and center-right Gesher parties, which recently merged into a combined slate.

If, on the morning after the results of the elections become clear, “you will not be able to wash your hands clean if, heaven forbid, we missed it,” Barak cautioned.

“Only a large union will ensure victory,” Barak said, adding that the Democratic Camp is “ready for any unification.”

Labor chief Amir Peretz at the opening of the party’s new election headquarters in Tel Aviv, on July 24, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Democratic Camp itself was formed out of an alliance announced last week between Meretz, Barak’s Israel Democratic Party and breakaway Labor MK Stav Shaffir.

Although Labor leader Amir Peretz has said he will not form an alliance with the Democratic Camp, he has held meetings with its members, Channel 12 news reported last week.

Peretz is reportedly open to an alliance if it would enable the center-left parties to secure a majority in the 120-seat Knesset.

“If me merging brings 60 seats to the bloc, I’m with you,” Peretz was quoted as saying during a meeting Meretz MK Issawi Frej and IDP member Noa Rothman.

There has been lingering anger within Labor over Peretz’s decision to merge the party with former lawmaker Orly Levy-Abekasis’s Gesher, which is further to the right on the political spectrum and had failed to pick up enough votes to enter the Knesset in April’s elections. Yet others within Labor, notably the party’s No. 2, MK Itzik Shmuli, have pushed Peretz to cooperate with the Democratic Camp on a joint slate in effort to win as many seats as possible for the left.

The reported meeting came as a pair of television polls aired Thursday showed Labor faring even worse than the six seats it picked up in April, which marked a record low for the party whose previous iterations led Israel for nearly 30 years after the country’s founding.

Both the left and right are concerned that votes will be lost on smaller parties, which may not beat the Knesset threshold of 3.25%, worth at least four seats in parliament.

Smaller parties on both sides of the aisle have thus been maneuvering — sometimes grudgingly — into alliances in preparation for the elections and ahead of a Thursday deadline to finalize campaign slates.

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