Shmuli: Peretz must make deals with Barak, Meretz

Barak bashes Labor-Gesher merger as “niche party.”

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF,
July 20, 2019 02:39
2 minute read.
Shmuli: Peretz must make deals with Barak, Meretz

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak gestures after delivering a statement in Tel Aviv, Israel June 26, 2019. (photo credit: CORINNA KERN/REUTERS)

Labor leader Amir Peretz must follow up on the agreement he reached with MK Orly Levy-Abecassis to run with her Gesher party by also merging with Meretz and former prime minister Ehud Barak’s Israel Democratic Party, Shmuli’s number two in Labor, MK Itzik Shmuli said on Friday. 


Shmuli, who lost the Labor leadership race to Peretz, welcomed the agreement with Gesher, who he called wonderful. But he criticized the agreement between Peretz and Abecassis to not seek deals with other parties. 
“The merger with her is terrific but it is forbidden to stop there,” Shmuli said. “To increase in size and to win, there must be a larger political big bang in the Center-Left bloc that emphasizes rather than hides its views on all what Israel needs: Democracy, security, peace and equality. It can still be achieved.” 


Barak responded to the Labor-Gesher merger on Friday by warning that the move may lead to the left's downfall in the upcoming September 17 election.


"I hope this is still not irreversible," Barak said. "She is certainly a possible partner for such a large camp, but this step may, God forbid, put an end to the work, the vision and the legacy of the party that established the state, in favor of establishing a socially niche party.”


Speaking at a meeting with members of Kibbutz Ein Shemer, Barak complained that Levy-Abecassis calls herself "neither Right nor Left.” He warned that the merger with Gesher “in effect gives up the chance of a [left-wing] government and opens the door to an alliance with Netanyahu." 


Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz went further, suggesting that joining Netanyahu’s government was the purpose of the Labor-Gesher deal. 


“[Peretz] told me explicitly in our talks he is considering, he wants, intends and is leaning toward joining a Netanyahu led government,” Horowitz told Army Radio. “That is why he did not merge with Meretz. He is destroying chances for bonds in the Left bloc and replacing Netanyahu.” 


Asked whether Meretz could still merge with Barak’s party, he indicated otherwise.


“We want to advance our values to present an ideological alternative, not political deals for seats,” he said. “No party presents our values.”


Peretz ruled out joining a Netanyahu-led government in a tweet late Thursday night.


“So it will be clear: We will not sit in a government of Netanyahu under an indictment!” he tweeted. “We are committed to replacing this bad government and bringing hope to the people of Israel.” 


Meanwhile, New Right head Naftali Bennett and former justice minister Ayelet Shaked will meet on Saturday night to discuss their political future and the proper way for the right-wing bloc to run in the election.


The meeting will take place in Tel Aviv and is not open to media coverage.


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