(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Party leaders on the center and left must vow not to sit in a government with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On said at a Meretz central committee meeting Sunday.
The central committee authorized Gal-On to continue on as party leader, as she ran unopposed.
Gal-On mocked politicians like Hatnua leader Tzipi Livni and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, who were in Netanyahu’s government and criticized him later as if they never had been..
“Those who entered the scene of the crime with great fanfare are now denying any connection to the bleeding corpse in the room,” she said, with the dead body standing in for the government.
“Even worse, they aren’t willing to announce they won’t be in the same government as Netanyahu,” she added, “And I ask myself, what have we come to? Do people think the public is so stupid? That the public suffers from national amnesia?” Gal-On said Meretz would recommend that President Reuven Rivlin task the head of the largest centrist or left-wing party to form the next government.
According to Gal-On, the government under Netanyahu’s leadership failed to provide security to Israelis, isolated the country internationally, “set the region on fire” by allowing ministers and MKs to visit the Temple Mount, created a “cannibalistic economy without social solidarity” and a “cruel budget that sent thousands under the poverty line,” and passed racist laws that violate human and civil rights.
“Every one of these partners is equally to blame. I would expect every one of you to look at the Israeli public straight in the eye and say ‘sorry,’ but instead, this group is giving us the middle finger and saying clearly and unashamedly: We are not apologizing,” she said, referring to a Bayit Yehudi slogan.
“I call on you, [Labor leader] Isaac Herzog, Tzipi Livni, Yair Lapid, [Koolanu head] Moshe Kahlon and [Yisrael Beytenu chairman and Foreign Minister] Avigdor Liberman: Make a commitment not to sit with Bibi. Don’t let the resounding failure be repeated,” Gal-On stated.
The Meretz leader also slammed other candidates for not coming out against statements by Liberman criticizing law enforcement, after senior members of his party were revealed to be the subject of a corruption investigation.
“It’s not enough to weakly back the attorney-general, we must loudly condemn corruption and corrupt people,” she said.
As for Lapid’s speech last week in which he told corrupt people to “give us back our country,” Gal-On said the Yesh Atid leader is hypocritical, because he was finance minister while the government invested funds in settlements without transparency.
Gal-On also accused Netanyahu and Bayit Yehudi of inciting against the Left, saying they are afraid and do not have what to sell to the public.
“They are afraid, because they do not know how to navigate this ship. They are afraid, because they know they are sailing the wonderful Zionist enterprise full-speed into an iceberg,” she said.
“Our answer will be on March 17 [Election Day], and we will stand and say clearly, ‘We are not afraid,’ ” Gal-On declared.
Also at the event, the 24 candidates running for a spot on the party’s slate presented their positions to the 1,000 central committee members, who will elect the Meretz list for the next Knesset on January 19.
Gal-On called the candidates “the best of all,” and optimistically said the party’s job is to get all of them into the Knesset, though last week’s polls put the party at winning six to seven seats.
“We will fight tooth and nail and with all our force for Meretz to grow and be a faction of 10-12 seats. Meretz will be the engine of the revolution.
It will be a revolution with Meretz,” she said.