Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On presenting the party's diplomatic platform.
(photo credit: MERETZ)
Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On announced her resignation from the Knesset on Wednesday, saying she wants to focus on bringing open primaries to her party.
"I love the Knesset, but I love Meretz more, and I know that if Meretz doesn't open up, it will not exist," she said. "The Left has a broader and larger audience than the number of people who voted for Meretz. To realize our potential, Meretz must change."
Gal-On informed Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein of her intention, but has yet to officially tender a resignation letter. She is the 14th member of the current Knesset to resign. Gal-On will be replaced in the Knesset by Meretz Secretary-General Mossi Raz, who was a Meretz MK from 2000 to 2003.
The Meretz chairwoman faced difficulties within her party in recent weeks, after a majority (54%) of Meretz council voters supported a motion to move up its leadership primary, set for January 2019, by 11 months. The motion was not approved, because it required a two-thirds vote, so Gal-On's position won, but she was politically weakened.
Gal-On has long sought to hold an open primary, in which non members could participate, to choose the party's leader and list for the next Knesset election, but her proposal has already been voted down twice. Next week, Meretz is set to elect new members of its central committee, which Gal-On hopes will be more receptive to her open primaries initiative.
"Meretz cannot be a closed club that ignores its voters and supporters and blocks any opportunity of new forces taking part in our struggle," she said.
MKs across the political spectrum tweeted that they don't want Gal-On to go.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, who is on Likud's right flank, wrote: "Despite disagreements between us, I think that Zehava Gal-On is an important voice in the Israeli Left. It's unfortunate that she is resigning from the Knesset."
Kulanu MK Merav Ben-Ari said she is "very bummed" to see Gal-On go, calling her "a leader on important topics with determination and sensitivity."
"You could disagree or agree with Gal-On," Zionist Union MK Amir Peretz wrote, "but you couldn't ignore her. The fight for peace and social justice was a basis for cooperation in the past and will be in the future, as well."
MK Merav Michaeli, also of Zionist Union, wrote: "Dear Zehava, we will miss you so much. Thank you for everything. We are waiting for the continuation."
MK Ilan Gilon, who intends to run against Gal-On in the next Meretz leadership race, called her "an excellent MK, and it is too bad she is quitting. I thank her for everything and her strange step to be unfortunate. Her work in the Knesset is more important than the election method in Meretz."