Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On votes.
(photo credit: MERETZ)
With Meretz only slightly over the electoral threshold at four seats in Wednesday’s results, party chairwoman Zehava Gal-On announced that she would resign.
“I said throughout the campaign that if Meretz succeeds, it is everyone’s success, but if Meretz doesn’t meet expectations, I am the address [for complaints] and I will personally take responsibility,” she wrote on Facebook.
Meretz had six seats in the previous Knesset and dropped to four this time, with many left-wing voters rallying around the big party in the bloc, Zionist Union. The final result will come on Thursday, after “double-envelope” votes – from soldiers, prisoners, hospital patients, polling station personnel and diplomats overseas – are counted, but those votes historically have boosted the Right.
Gal-On plans to resign from the Knesset and allow Tamar Zandberg to serve her second term as an MK. She will not run for the chairwoman of Meretz again, but plans to remain in the post until a replacement is selected.
“This is a very difficult moment for me. I hoped that Meretz would maintain its strength and more than that, I hoped that we could form a different government and end the age of [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu. Unfortunately, that really did not happen,” Gal-On wrote.
The departing Meretz chairwoman said left-wing politicians shouldn’t dare say the voters disappointed; rather, the opposite is true and the politicians disappointed the voters.
“The citizens of Israel don’t owe me anything, and I owe them everything,” she added.
“If the Israeli public chose to decrease Meretz’s power, if it chose to give another term to Netanyahu, I alone need to draw conclusions. At the same time, it is Meretz’s responsibility as a party to do soul-searching and find its compass again.”
Gal-On wrote that Meretz and the Left should keep its head held high, adding that there are ups and downs in politics and Meretz will grow again.
Zandberg called on Gal-On not to resign, stating that she cannot imagine the Knesset and Israeli public life without Gal-On.
“This is a difficult morning for the Left. Gal-On’s message sets an example of leadership, integrity and courage that characterize her.... This is not a failure by Zehava, but by all of us,” she said.
“In any case, it isn’t over and I hope that tomorrow morning [when the official results come in] her message won’t be necessary, because we will get our fifth seat and start the long journey to repair and change that is so necessary here,” Zandberg added.
MK Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) called on Gal-On not to resign.
“Zehava is one of Israel’s important leaders. She has an ideological backbone, a stubborn path, determination and exceptional parliamentary capabilities,” Yacimovich said. “The results of the election are not her fault.”
The Labor MK said she did all she could so that Labor’s growth did not harm Meretz, which Yacimovich called “the most important party for the Zionist Left,” but that the flow of votes from Meretz to Zionist Union was unstoppable.