Snubbed by Labor and Meretz, Shaffir announces she won’t run in March election

Green Party chair says an independent run would have risked wasting left-wing votes, vows to continue fighting for fellow Israelis from outside Knesset

MK Stav Shaffir of the Democratic Camp party holds a press conference, September 15, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90)
MK Stav Shaffir of the Democratic Camp party holds a press conference, September 15, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90)

Veteran MK Stav Shaffir, the Green Party chairwoman, announced on Wednesday that she would not be running in the upcoming March election after a left-wing alliance formed earlier this week without her.

“I won’t run in this election, but I will stay in the race for our country. Today we’re taking the Green Movement out [of the Knesset] and instead to the streets, to the cities, to the neighborhoods, in order to build our tomorrow and come back stronger,” she said at a press conference on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv — the swanky pedestrian boulevard where she first rose to prominence as a leader of the 2011 cost-of-living protests.

Shaffir began her political career in 2013 with the Labor party. Ahead of the previous election, she bolted in order to form the Democratic Camp with former prime minister Ehud Barak and Meretz chairman Nitzan Horowitz. After a relatively disappointing five-seat finish, Meretz members pushed back against her effort to maintain the number 2 spot on the joint slate. Eventually, the left-wing party decided to merge with Labor instead, and with candidates from each party hoping to maintain realistic spots on the combined slate, a decision was made to leave Shaffir off of it.

While in the two days since the Labor-Meretz merger was announced Shaffir weighed the possibility of an independent run with her Green Party, she ultimately reached the conclusion that it would not cross the electoral threshold and risked wasting thousands of left-wing votes.

Labor-Gesher head Amir Peretz, left, and Meretz party leader Nitzan Horowitz during a press conference in Tel Aviv on January 13, 2020. (Flash90)

Despite the fact that the left-wing alliance was carrying on without her, Shaffir told supporters Wednesday that she was proud that the merger had been finally accomplished. “This union is more important than me,” she said.

In a reference to scandal-plagued Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Shaffir said, “Today’s fight is to remove the mafia don from the prime minister’s chair and to clean the Augean Stables of our government from the terrible corruption that has gripped it and from the incitement that has pitted all the beautiful parts of Israeli society against one another.”

The merger between the center-left Labor-Gesher and hard-left Meretz is seen as a marriage of convenience between parties that differ on ideology, but which polls have shown hovering at between four and six Knesset seats each, in danger of falling below the threshold and endangering the left-wing bloc.

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