Meretz central committee approves merger with Barak’s Israel Democratic Party

Left-wing Democratic Camp alliance commits to strive for two-state solution, not to join right-wing government, and to cancel Jewish nation-state law

Nitzan Horowitz, leader of Meretz party and of the Democratic Camp, speaks at an election campaign event in Tel Aviv on July 28, 2019. (Gili Yaari / Flash90)
Nitzan Horowitz, leader of Meretz party and of the Democratic Camp, speaks at an election campaign event in Tel Aviv on July 28, 2019. (Gili Yaari / Flash90)

Meretz’s central committee on Sunday approved the left-wing party’s move to join the Democratic Camp alliance, an electoral union with former prime minister Ehud Barak’s Israel Democratic Party and breakaway Labor MK Stav Shaffir.

“For the first time, we have an opportunity to lead and make history. The Israeli left wing is moving the political map to the left,” Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz, who heads the Democratic Camp, told the committee.

As part of the agreement, the party’s letters on the ballot slips will be those that have been used by Meretz in past elections — Mem Resh Tzadi (מרצ).

The Democratic Camp merger agreement approved by the committee commits to the party seeking out a peace deal with the Palestinians on the basis of the two-state solution, not joining a right-wing government, and cancelling the controversial Jewish nation-state law passed last year, which enshrines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people and was criticized by minority groups for failing to include references to the value of equality.

Meretz chairman Nitzan Horowitz, right, Israel Democratic Party chief Ehud Barak, left, and MK Stav Shaffir hold a press conference announcing their new alliance, the Democratic Camp, ahead of the September 17 elections, in Tel Aviv on July 25, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The announcement of the alliance last week came amid lingering anger over Labor party leader Amir Peretz’s decision to merge with former Yisrael Beytenu lawmaker Orly Levy-Abekasis’s Gesher party, 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.

Polls have since predicted a solid showing for the Democratic Camp — between eight and 12 Knesset seats — with Labor suffering and dropping to just five seats in two of three surveys released over the weekend, barely above the electoral threshold.

The upcoming September 17 vote was called after the Knesset voted to dissolve itself, following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s failure to form a government before the legal deadline, a move that prevented any other lawmaker from having a shot at forming a ruling majority.

The decision to schedule a fresh vote marked the first time in Israel’s history that an election failed to produce a new government.

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