Left-wing MK Shaffir says planning to run independently in elections

Democratic Camp member says she’ll head her own Green Party in March vote following political infighting in leftist alliance, which she says is disintegrating

Stav Shaffir speaks during a press conference announcing the Democratic Camp in Tel Aviv on July 25, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Stav Shaffir speaks during a press conference announcing the Democratic Camp in Tel Aviv on July 25, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Left-wing MK Stav Shaffir said Thursday that she will run in the upcoming elections at the head of her own party following political infighting in the Democratic Camp alliance of left-wing parties.

“I’ll be running with the faction that I lead, called the Green Party,” Shaffir said in an interview with Army Radio.

On Monday Meretz, the leading faction in the Democratic Camp, decided to cancel its primary and was reportedly looking to downgrade its relationship with Democratic Camp’s Shaffir and Yair Golan.

Shaffir said that Meretz had violated its agreement with other party members and that she would run independently in the March vote. She did not rule out sitting with any other party, but rejected working with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Unfortunately Meretz violated the agreement because it is having internal battles,” Shaffir said. “They’re in the midst of internal battles that I’m not getting into, but right now there’s essentially no Democratic Camp.”

“In the future, my party will sit in every government that respects its values, including that of Likud,” she said, adding, however, that “Netanyahu is out of the question, he is corrupting the system.”

Shaffir called her nascent Green Party “the one that is going to build the future of our generation.”

She said she still believed in the wider left-wing movement and wanted to “strengthen the Democratic Camp,” and would continue to cooperate with Meretz, the Israel Democratic Party and Labor. She said that she and left-wing voters wanted to see the alliance continue.

All the left-wing parties are in danger of not crossing the electoral threshold, and leading parties Meretz and Labor are engaged in too much backroom dealing, having not kept up with the times, Shaffir added, likely alluding to Meretz’s canceled primary.

“Our public has actually grown in Israel. More and more people believe in liberal values. But it feels that its politicians don’t really fight for it,” she said.

Shaffir called for a large left-wing faction of Jews and Arabs, and room for the religious, including ultra-Orthodox, like the US Democratic Party, which she said could accommodate both centrists like Hillary Clinton and more liberal candidates like Elizabeth Warren.

She wouldn’t rule out joining with another faction.

“[You’ll run] even by yourself?” pressed interviewer Gal Gabai.

“Whatever happens, I’ll be running. No one will cause the public that I represent and that goes with me to leave politics due to some other politicians,” Shaffir said.

The Democratic Camp came together in July ahead of the September vote as a merger between Meretz, Ehud Barak’s Israel Democratic Party, Shaffir and Golan.

On Monday, a Meretz source told Haaretz: “It’s not clear that there is any electoral justification to have Shaffir at No. 2 and Golan at No. 3.”

Shaffir, who first won public recognition as a leader of the 2011 social justice protests in Israel, left Labor to join the Democratic Camp after veteran Labor leader Amir Peretz ruled out merging with other left-wing parties following his alliance with Orly Levy-Abekasis’s center-right Gesher party.

A pre-election poll released last week saw the Democratic Camp matching its current total of five seats in the 120-member Knesset.

The Knesset dissolved itself last Wednesday night, triggering national elections for the third time in under a year. It set the date of the elections for March 2.

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