For now, opinion polls show that the left has no chance of defeating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Lawmakers Amir Peretz and Itzik Shmuli, by crawling into his government, have turned the Labor Party into a historical relic. Both Labor and Meretz have forgone primaries, leaving power in the hands of their leaders. There is no democracy in the parties of Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid either. This leaves Likud, embarrassingly, as the only democratic party.
Gantz has now destroyed his own credibility by joining Netanyahu’s coalition, so has Labor leader Amir Peretz. Lapid remains the only leader of a major party on the center-left. Netanyahu has no choice but to take him on. But while Lapid’s inexperience and dilettantism gives Netanyahu ample ammunition against the former chat-show host and columnist, it also creates a dilemma for him. Attacking Lapid with all guns blazing increases his popularity in the anti-Netanyahu camp, where many have had trouble taking Lapid seriously. Lapid, unlike Gantz, Gabbay and Herzog, is also prepared to follow Netanyahu into the mud.
Peretz’s decision to join the government does not dramatically alter the political balance, as there are only three Labor lawmakers in the new Knesset, and one of them, Merav Michaeli, might decide to defect to Meretz, which sits further left on the political specturm, if Labor joins Netanyahu.
Israel’s Supreme Court ordered a Thursday vote to elect a new Knesset (Israeli Parliament) speaker after Yuli Edelstein announced his resignation Wednesday, allowing senior MKAmir Peretz to lead the plenary.
The court decided late Wednesday night to hold the vote Thursday.
In the ruling, Supreme Court President Justice Esther Hayut attacked Edelstein, saying he had committed „an unprecedented violation of the rule of law.“ Hayut had strongly criticized Edelstein’s decision to lock the plenary contrary to the court’s decision.
Earlier, the High Court debated a petition to accuse Edelstein of dishonoring the court, after he resigned earlier Wednesday, locking the Knesset plenum contrary to the court’s decision, which ruled that a new Speaker will be selected by Wednesday midnight.
Peretz said that he was still in touch with Orly Levy-Abekasis and was hoping to come to an accord regarding the steps to be taken in the future.
Levi-Abekasis decided on her own to opt for a political renewal and move from the right to the left. Naturally, her move triggered much suspicion, but she, Peretz and their partners dismissed these misgivings with disdain, even alleging anti-Mizrahi racism against anyone doubting that Levi-Abekasis had ideologically abandoned the right. After many efforts at convincing people, and based on the promises by the Labor-Gesher-Meretz alliance, people voted for the union she had joined.
Levi-Abekasis has the right to regret her transition.
Joint List MK and Balad Chairman Mtanes Shehadeh said Saturday following Gantz and Netenyahu’s statements that „the arab community has spoken, they want a change in their position and aim for an end to discrimination and racism. Netanyahu would die to disqualify them but could not, and Gantz would have liked to ignore them but he couldn’t.“
Former Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday welcomed the expected union between the Labor and Meretz parties, but expressed concern over the fact that Green Movement chairwoman Stav Shaffir was left out of the alliance.
Leaders of the Labor-Gesher and Meretz parties, Amir Peretz and Nitzan Horowitz, stood alongside each other as they announced their merger at a press conference held in Beit Sokolov in Tel Aviv on Monday evening.
“If you want to vote Right you can vote for Likud or Blue and White,” Horowitz said in a tongue-in-cheek manner, placing Benny Gantz’s alliance together with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing base.
It seems as if our leftist politicians have simply given up all hope, or pretense, of getting their act together.
Now they are looking to Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz, hoping he will be so kind as to stick his hand into the wading pool in which they are drowning, pull them out and sit them down nicely one next to the other.
Israeli Labor and Meretz parties are expected to discuss the possibility of running together in the upcoming Knesset election, say sources familiar with talks between the two parties.
Negotiating teams on their behalf – or the two leaders themselves – are expected to meet in the next few days, in advance of the deadline for formal submission of party slates to the Central Elections Committee, in nine days‘ time.
Meretz is even more vulnerable in the polls and is liable to pay the price. That’s why Peretz has allowed himself to stand on the sidelines and insist on realizing his dream. And therefore, he is the one who must pay the price for this reckless gamble.
The danger is clear and present. If either Labor or Meretz (in its present wrapping as the Democratic Union) do not make it into the next Knesset, the right will enjoy a crushing victory, with Netanyahu forming a coalition that will grant him immunity from facing trial while destroying the judicial system and annexing the West Bank.
The results of the last two elections, as well as recent opinion polls, show that these two parties, especially Meretz, face the risk of collapsing.
The leader, who has been indicted for bribery, is hysterically yet soberly and determinedly pulling out all the stops to save himself from having to face justice. In so doing, he continues endlessly to incite, to divide, to threaten to take credit for others’ achievements and to lie. He and his family are prepared to burn down the house, and with it the norms of public life in Israel. A century ago, the Irish poet W. B. Yeats bewailed the blindness of leaders who brought on the apocalypse of World War I:
“The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”
On Wednesday, Labor’s convention will meet to approve retaining Labor’s existing Knesset ticket – which includes a partnership with MK Orli Levi-Abekasis’ Gesher party – aside from one change that has infuriated some Labor Knesset members: Peretz will be allowed to put two additional candidates of his own choice in the ticket’s top 10 slots.
The final deadline for Israel’s political parties to submit their lists of Knesset candidates for the September 17 election is in ten days. Center-left voters and their leaders depict the election as crucial, vital and even existential. Benjamin Netanyahu’s reelection, they claim, could spell the end of Israel’s liberal democracy, as we’ve known it.
Nonetheless, as the clock nears midnight, the center-left is on the brink of implosion.
The general election will take place on September 17, and Netanyahu’s pre-indictment hearing is set for October 2 and 3.
Peretz also characterized his joining forces last week with Orli Levi-Abekasis, chairwoman of the Gesher party, as “a chance to win,” otherwise Labor would suffer “sure defeat.”
The fact that Shelly Yacimovich, a leader and symbol of Labor for the last decade and a half, has decided to take a break from politics is another sign of the desperate condition of the party as another election approaches. “I can’t do it anymore,” she wrote, paraphrasing Menachem Begin. But it isn’t just her. The Labor Party itself can’t do it any more, not on its own.
„The present need calls for a big and significant left-wing bloc alongside the center,“ said Zandberg, repeating a similar call she made before the last election, which Gabbay rejected after polls held by both parties at the time showed a merger wouldn’t increase their total number of seats.
Zandberg’s rushed proposal also signals to left-wing voters that if such a union never comes, the fault would rest with Labor.
Other Labor member do not support a union with Meretz. „In the Labor Party’s current condition, we need to join Kahol Lavan and run on a joint slate,“ said one of the party’s lawmakers.