Left-wing parties said in merger talks as prospects of 3rd election grow

Officials from Democratic Camp and Labor reportedly believe they need to join forces amid risk of not crossing electoral threshold; Labor chief Peretz hesitant

Labor chairman Amir Peretz (L) shakes hands with Meretz (and later Democratic Camp) chairman Nitzan Horowitz on July 17, 2019. (Courtesy)
Labor chairman Amir Peretz (L) shakes hands with Meretz (and later Democratic Camp) chairman Nitzan Horowitz on July 17, 2019. (Courtesy)

Two of the Knesset’s two left-leaning parties, Labor and Democratic Camp, have launched preliminary negotiations for a merger in the event that a new election, the third in less than a year, is called, Channel 13 reported Friday.

The possibility of a joint left-wing slate was raised during a meeting between Labor chairman Amir Peretz and Democratic Camp head Nitzan Horowitz earlier this week.

Officials in both parties reportedly said that they feel they need to merge due to an increased likelihood that one, or both of the parties, may not cross the electoral threshold in another national vote.

The network said that Peretz appeared reluctant to make such a move at this stage, however. Ahead of September’s election, the Labor chairman called off negotiations for a merger with the Democratic Camp, instead joining forces with Gesher party chairwoman Orly Levy-Abekasis in an effort to lure socioeconomic-minded voters, particularly those on the Israeli right.

The move proved to garner limited results with Labor receiving the same six seats in September that it had won in April. The Meretz party, which added former prime minister Ehud Barak, former deputy army chief of staff Yair Golan and ex-Labor MK Stav Shafir and rebranded itself as the Democratic Camp, earned just one more seat than the four it won in the April vote.

Both rounds of elections have failed to produce a governing coalition — a first in Israeli political history. The Knesset now has a December 11 deadline for lawmakers to agree on any MK to form a government, or parliament will be dissolved and a third election set, likely in March.

Since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the Likud party and Blue and White’s Benny Gantz were unable to form a government following the September 17 ballot, there has been speculation that another candidate, such as Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar or Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, would use the period until December 11 to gather the 61 signatures of MKs that would see them tasked with forming a coalition.

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