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‘This is the abyss’: Left reacts with horror to election results

Meretz minister Esawi Frej says Labor leader Merav Michaeli’s ‘delusions of grandeur’ brought about the center-left’s electoral downfall

Meretz party supporters react as the results of the Israeli elections are announced, in Jerusalem November 1, 2022. (Flash90)
Meretz party supporters react as the results of the Israeli elections are announced, in Jerusalem November 1, 2022. (Flash90)

Left-wing politicians were reacting with horror and dismay on Wednesday to the decisive electoral victory of the right-wing, religious bloc in the general election, expressing extreme concern in particular over the strong influence the far-right Religious Zionism party will likely wield in the next government.

And recriminations among left-wing parties for their poor showing in the election had also begun, with Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Frej of the Meretz party blaming the leader of the Labor party, Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli, for the loss, citing her refusal to unite the two parties.

Michaeli staunchly refused to unite her party with Meretz on a joint electoral slate ahead of the election, insisting that both parties would be able to pass the electoral threshold by themselves.

With some 86 percent of the votes counted, Labor looked set to win just four seats, compared to the seven seats it won in the last election, while it appeared Meretz would fail to cross the electoral threshold, thereby losing all representation in the Knesset altogether.

“Michaeli has delusions of grandeur. She dreams of [being Yitzhak] Rabin,” Frej told Army Radio on Wednesday morning.

“A mistake was made; the ego played a role and you pay a price for ego,” continued Frej, who is Israel’s second-ever Muslim cabinet minister in the outgoing government.

Minister of Regional Cooperation Issawi Frej attends a Meretz faction meeting at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on June 13, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Earlier, the minister expressed his concern over the strong performance by Religious Zionism, tweeting that the likely 14 seats won by Religious Zionism were “14 seats for the hatred of Arabs.”

Wrote Frej, “The third largest party in the Knesset is a racist, Kahanist, violent party that doesn’t want me or my children here. This is no longer a slippery slope. This is the abyss itself.”

Speaking earlier on Army Radio, Labor party candidate Yaya Fink conceded that the decision not to unite Meretz and Labour was a major factor in the electoral success of the right-wing, religious bloc.

“In retrospect, it appears that this was a mistake,” he said, adding, “The head of the party made the decision and we all stood behind her.”

Labour party supporters react as the results of the Israeli elections are announced, in Tel Aviv November 1, 2022. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

When the scale of the left’s trouncing became clear on Wednesday morning Fink tweeted more optimistically that “Every failure is an opportunity” and that “We need to build anew the Zionist left.”

Meretz MK Mossi Raz declined to lay blame for the poor results, but said, “In the face of darkness and racism, Kahanism and incitement, we do not have the opportunity to despair.”

Meretz candidate and former Peace Now leader Yariv Oppenheimer compared the electoral failure to the assassination of the late prime minister Rabin, tweeting, “Is it the morning of November 2 or November 4?” in reference to the date Rabin was murdered.

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