Michaeli slams Lapid’s attempts to push Labor, Meretz together as ‘harming the bloc’

Amid PM’s efforts for a joint electoral list, Labor leader says ‘it’s time to start working together to fight against the real opponent’

Yair Lapid and Merav Michaeli speak on the sidelines of the Knesset on June 22, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Yair Lapid and Merav Michaeli speak on the sidelines of the Knesset on June 22, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Labor leader and Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli harshly criticized Prime Minister Yair Lapid Tuesday over his ongoing efforts to push her to run on a joint electoral slate with Meretz.

In media interviews on Monday and Tuesday, Michaeli slammed Lapid’s efforts to convince her and Meretz leader Zehava Galon to combine forces ahead of the November 1 election — despite Michaeli’s firm and ongoing resistance.

“It’s time to stop this campaign,” Michaeli told Ynet in an interview on Tuesday. “This campaign is not advancing, and is actually harming, the [center-left] bloc.”

In meetings and talks on Saturday night and Sunday, Lapid offered Labor and Meretz a reserved spot each on his Yesh Atid party’s electoral slate, and ministerial positions for Labor if he forms a government. Michaeli rejected the offer, sticking to the position she has maintained for months.

“It’s time to stop the friendly fire,” Michaeli added. “It’s time to start working together to fight against the real opponent… I’m calling on Lapid, let’s work together and ensure as many voters as possible show up.”

Lapid wants the center-left Labor and the dovish Meretz to join forces since both parties are polling near the electoral threshold, at risk of not getting enough votes to win representation in the Knesset. If one or both of the parties fall below the threshold of 3.25%, the votes for the parties will go to waste, instead of likely going to a potential Lapid coalition.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid meets with Meretz chair hopeful Zehava Galon on July 19, 2022. (Zehava Galon)

But Michaeli believes such a union will only lead to a smaller number of seats for the two parties overall — which was the result when they ran together in the March 2020 election, winning just seven total seats, compared to 11 for the two factions in September 2019.

“You can’t accuse me of not being anxious about [Benjamin] Netanyahu’s return to power — I’m operating from good judgment, not hysteria,” Michaeli told Channel 12 news.

“I have no doubt that the Labor party will receive [many] votes,” she added. “I am sure that [running independently] is the right thing to do to ensure that Netanyahu does not come back.”

Galon, meanwhile, has been open to such a union since she took over the leadership of Meretz last month.

All parties must submit their final electoral slates by midnight on Thursday.

November’s race is expected to be tight, and votes wasted on a left-wing party that doesn’t cross the threshold could cost Lapid’s bloc a shot at maintaining power and preventing Netanyahu’s right-wing and religious bloc from returning to government.

In the most recently published polls, both Labor and Meretz are polling around five seats each. The minimum amount of seats required to enter the Knesset is four.

Israeli election polls are often too small to accurately predict election results, with margins of error large enough to sway as many as five seats, but they can offer a general overview of public opinion and often influence jockeying between politicians.

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