In an effort to secure stronger political clout on both national and local
levels, most Green Party city council members are splitting from their
organization to officially join the Green Movement on Friday.
variety of arcane historical reasons, two competing green parties emerged in
Israel,” Green Movement co-chairman Prof. Alon Tal told The Jerusalem Post on
“This duplication is not only tactically disastrous, but it is
On Friday morning, at a meeting in Tel Aviv,
the majority of Green Party members serving on city councils – roughly 85
percent to 90% of them – will leave their organization to join the Green
Movement, according to Hadas Shaknai, a Green Party member who served on the Tel
Aviv-Jaffa city council for 10 years. There are about 45 Green Party members
serving on city councils throughout the country, she said.
something that we should have done years ago, and it’s an obvious way to reach
the election,” Shaknai told the Post on Thursday.
“When parties join
together, they become stronger.”
She would not share her opinions about
the reasons for the split in the Green Party, but said that she was no longer
connected with the organization in which she used to serve as secretary-general,
and that she was taking city council representatives from 20 municipalities with
her. Council members from Nahariya, Kiryat Ata, Nesher, Hadera, Ramat Hasharon,
Hod Hasharon, Netanya, Modi’in, Ramat Gan, Givatayim, Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Rishon
Lezion, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Kiryat Ono, Pardesiya and a few others will be joining
her, she confirmed.
Pe’er Visner, the former longtime chairman of the
Green Party, told the Post that those leaving to join the Green Movement had had
no real connection with his party for some time, and that they certainly did not
comprise 85% of its city council members.
But Tal said that “the party is
in shambles” and that this was in part due to the fact that Visner “ran it as a
Tal said that when the Green Movement approached Visner and
proposed a merger before the 2009 elections, Visner refused to institute a
democratic process for selecting a joint party chairman.
Dror Ezra, a
member of the Herzliya City Council, is now head of the Green Party, which Tal
said would have very few council members left on Friday.
“Dror Ezra is
very committed to the environment,” Tal said. “I call on him to join the 85% –
to be part of one single unit.”
Ezra said that the Green Movement had
made the same announcement several times, and that he had no idea how many
people had left the Green Party, as he had not received any resignation
“We don’t force anybody to be in our party,” Ezra told the Post.
“I personally don’t pursue politicians from other parties. I think that it’s not
moral behavior in a political system, nor is it green behavior.”
that before the 2009 elections, his party invited Green Movement members to join
his organization, but they refused.
“They threatened us, [saying] that if
you don’t give us your party, we will destroy you,” Ezra said. “And this is what
Meanwhile, he charged that the Green Movement had posted a
video online about corruption within the Green Party.
“They waged a war
because we didn’t surrender to their blackmail,” he said.
He and his
fellow Green Party members are just “regular people,” while Green Movement
members are largely academics who began a sort of tribal battle against them,
according to Ezra.
To these allegations, Tal responded that Shaknai and
the representatives from 20 city councils had approached his party about
becoming one movement.
“[Ezra] has a role to play and we have to learn
from the lessons of the past and move forward,” Tal said. “I salute his
environmentalism and don’t feel that there is enough room in this country for
more than one green party.”
He called on Ezra “to join the rest of his
colleagues and the Green Movement as a single, unified, democratic green party
for the good of Israel and the environment.”
Tal founded the Green
Movement alongside Eran Ben-Yemini in late 2008 as “an environmental and social
political party uniting activists, founders of environmental organizations, city
council members and academics, philosophers and scientists,” according to the
party’s mission statement. Now co-chaired by Tal and Racheli Tidhar-Caner, the
movement relies on a Council of Experts – professionals in science, environment,
society, education and planning – to make policy decisions.
Movement ran on a joint list with the Meimad party for the 18th Knesset
elections in 2009, but was unable to win a seat.
According to the
movement’s representatives, the latest election polls show that it would win
three Knesset seats in the next election.
The Green Party, historically
known as “the Greens,” was founded in 1997 after the collapse of the bridge at
the Maccabiah Games opening ceremony, according to its mission statement, with
the logic of, “Why invest in a bridge that we will dismantle tomorrow?” During
the municipal elections of 1998, Visner and Shaknai’s party won seats on the Tel
Aviv- Jaffa City Council. The 2003 municipal elections showed an increase in
Green Party representation, with the Greens and other environmentally friendly
parties submitting lists for 14 municipal council elections.
have representatives in councils all over the country.
the Greens have never won a Knesset seat, they received more than 13,000 votes
in 1999, 13,000 votes in 2003, 48,000 votes in 2006 and around 12,000 votes in
“I am delighted that the voices of reason and moderation prevailed
and that we now have an agreement in place that will allow the Green Movement to
take its place as a major political player in the national and local
governments,” said Tal, who is also a professor at Ben-Gurion University’s Jacob
Blaustein Institute for Desert Research.
“A party that prioritizes
quality of life, equality, justice and preserving our resources for future
generations is actually the best expression of Zionism for the next century,” he
The combined organization intends to hold internal elections in
September, and Tal said he expected the Green Movement to end up the largest
party locally after the 2013 local municipal elections, making use of the
infrastructure that the former Greens already have solidly in
“This is a revolution in terms of green policy,” Tal said, adding
that other parties had expressed interest in future cooperation
The success of green parties in Europe can certainly be
replicated in Israel, he asserted. In Germany, where the green party
transformation began, there are already state governors from the country’s Green
Party, he said.
“The political map in Europe has undergone a total
transition, with Green Parties now filling a key role in parliaments and
governments across the continent,” Tal said. “But at the local level, green
politicians are seizing the reins of power and introducing an agenda of
He is confident that the new Green Movement, acting
together, will make a strong impact on the country’s political
“The political mosaic in Israel is starting to change. The fact
that so many citizens voted green in local and national elections means that
there is a generational shift in priorities and that the tired political
Right-Left rhetoric of the old parties is increasingly irrelevant,” he said. “At
the Friday convention, a united Green Movement opens its local and national
campaign with a strong national presence and an agenda for improving the lives
of all Israelis.”