Labor Party chairman Amir Peretz and his number two in the party, MK Itzik Shmueli are strongly considering entering Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government but have not made a final decision, sources close to them said on Sunday night.
Peretz and Shmuli met with Blue and White leader Benny Gantz on Sunday and received an offer from him to join. Reports said he offered Peretz the Economy portfolio and Shmuli a deputy ministry but that Gantz is trying to get a socioeconomic portfolio for Shmuli as well.
Advisers to Peretz and Shmuli said they would not make a decision until they see the guidelines of the coalition deal between Likud and Blue and White.
Nevertheless, MK Merav Michaeli, who is the third of the three Labor MKs, demanded that the party's institutions be convened immediately using the Zoom video communications platform. Michaeli hosted a rally on Zoom on Sunday against joining the government.
Michaeli told The Jerusalem Post's sister publication Maariv: "I will have to convene a party conference and vote digitally and vote against the government. I do not violate my promises to the voter. I urge you to act to respect the democratic principles of the party and given that it is not physically possible to convene at this time, we will discuss the possiblity of organizing it online."
In explaining her decision not to follow her fellow Labor Mks into the government, she said that Netanyahu poses a threat to Israel's democratic system, while adding that "we are in a state where the government and the Knesset itself are violating Supreme Court orders."
Michaeli has vigorously denied reports that she was on her way to Meretz. She said she was a member of Labor and would remain in the party regardless of the decision of her colleagues but that if they joined the government, she would remain in the opposition.
Speaking in the Knesset plenum after Gantz decided to join the government, Michaeli asked Gantz and Blue and White MK Gabi Ashkenazi why they "put the entire country through this entire mess when they could have been ministers for Netanyahu all along." She said they should have learned from what happened to politicians who relied on Netanyahu's promises in the past, like Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Yaalon.
"You wanted to be Yitzhak Rabin, but you ended up like another former IDF chief of staff, Shaul Mofaz, a nice man but a caricature of a politician who gave into Netanyahu and whose career ended shortly afterward," she said.
Meretz Chairman Nitzan Horowitz also harshly criticized Peretz and Shmuli following reports that the latter two are planning to join a government led by Netanyahu, saying that his party does not "cheat" its voters or betrays its values.
Both the center-left Labor Party and and social-democratic Meretz Party, in conjunction with Orly Levy Abekasis's economic egalitarian-oriented Gesher party, ran on a joint list together in the election on March 2, dropping to a combined low of seven seats.
Reports of a split in the Labor Party come amid another split in Gantz's Blue and White Party, between his Israel Resilience Party, which will join a government led by Netanyahu, and Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid and Moshe 'Bogie' Ya'alon's Telem, both of which will be in the opposition.