Two members of Meretz launched a joint bid Wednesday to head the left-wing party, saying they were looking to bring it a “shared Arab-Jewish leadership.”
MK Issawi Frej and former lawmaker Mossi Raz announced the move after meeting with a group of Meretz activists.
“The Israel left needs hope in the form of true Jewish-Arab partnership. The Arab public gave its trust to Meretz in the last election and now we must strengthen the partnership by building a strong and influential Jewish-Arab left,” Frej wrote in a Facebook post.
Raz tweeted that the aim of the joint leadership run was meant to provide “hope against [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s policy of incitement.”
Frej has served as a MK since 2013, while Raz entered the Knesset in 2017 to replace outgoing Meretz leader Zehava Galon. Having placed seventh on the party’s electoral list, Raz failed to return to the Knesset in April’s national elections, in which Meretz received four seats.
Galon praised Raz and Frej’s joint leadership run as “something new and interesting.”
“This is the right idea, the right message and the right direction that challenges the existing system and presents a new model for Jewish-Arab partnership,” she wrote on Twitter.
With their announcement, Frej and Raz joined Israeli journalist and former MK Nitzan Horowitz as the declared challengers to incumbent party head Tamar Zandberg.
Zandberg took over for Galon as Meretz chief in March 2018, when the party held its first ever leadership primary.
The party is said to be mulling a merger with the center-left Labor Party ahead of the September 17 elections.
Zandberg renewed her call last month for a joint Labor-Meretz slate, after her urging of an alliance ahead of the April vote was rebuffed by Labor leader Avi Gabbay.
Gabbay has since announced he will step down as the party head, with a leadership primary set for early July.