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Meretz: Elections show public seek an alternative
By DANIELLE ZIRI
23/01/2013
Party doubles its mandates for 19th Knesset, jumping from 3 seats to 6 or 7; Gal-On calls on leaders to form strong opposition bloc.
 
The leader of the left-wing Meretz party, which doubled its current three mandates to six or seven for the 19th Knesset, says the electorate is seeking an alternative to the country’s governing parties.

“These elections have proved that the public is crying out for the Left and for an alternative,” Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On said in a speech to supporters at party headquarters in Tel Aviv after the results of exit polls were released on Tuesday night.

Gal-On also called on the leaders of centrist parties to rally with Meretz and form a strong opposition bloc to counter a coalition led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of the Likud.

“I call on them to build together an alternative to preserve democracy and restore sanity to Israel,” she said. “This could be a historic opportunity to change the rule of the extreme Right, which has crushed democracy.”

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She also thanked Meretz voters on her Facebook page on Wednesday morning.

“We said one more small push for a large Left,” she stated. “But the push wasn’t small, it was huge, and it was yours, tens of thousands of voters, of volunteers and of activists who believed in the way and the goal and trusted us.”

She added that she was “grateful and filled with pride.”

“I can’t physically hug all of you so I am sending you a virtual hug and hope you feel it,” she said. “Thanks to you we will reach our goal.”

Meretz MK Ilan Gilon also expressed his satisfaction and said the election results had proved that “rumors of the death of the Left in Israel” were not true.

“Yesterday, leftists chose an alternative to the racist and anti-democratic voices present in the last Knesset. They chose an alternative to the extremism that characterized the campaigns of right-wing parties,” Gilon said in a statement on Wednesday.

“This is the first step to the deployment of a true Left camp, a seeker of peace and social justice that constitutes a strong opposition fighting for human rights and the separation of religion from the state,” he said.

The party’s number three, MK Nitzan Horowitz, who had stayed “cautiously optimistic” throughout election day, had yet to react to the results.

Earlier on Tuesday, as Israelis went to the polls, Gal-On repeatedly expressed optimism regarding the results.

“I’m hoping we will double or even triple our seats in the Knesset this time,” she told The Jerusalem Post as she joined young Meretz supporters in north Tel Aviv. “I think people see in Meretz a party you can believe in. Bibi will be prime minister again, but we are going to be a strong fighting opposition.”
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