Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On and the MKs in her faction finalized a compromise on procedures for the next party leadership race, which will be held on March 22.Gal-On had been pushing for two years for Meretz to hold Israel’s first open primary, in which all citizens could vote without becoming party members. According to the compromise reached on Thursday, she did not succeed in obtaining that procedure, but the party will hold a membership drive through February 17 that will allow thousands of new people to vote in the race.To run for Meretz leader, a new member would only have to pay NIS 80 membership dues once. By contrast, to vote in a Labor leadership race requires paid membership in the party for six months, Bayit Yehudi a year, and the Likud 16 months.“Meretz is starting a new path that will enable new groups to join and make Meretz their home,” Gal-On said. “The Left needs new forces like oxygen for its lungs. We are opening a door that will enable us to grow and gain strength in Israeli society.”Meretz has some 18,000 members, far fewer than the 135,000 in the Likud, 58,000 in Labor, and 30,000 in Bayit Yehudi. Until now, Meretz’s leader and MKs were chosen by the party’s 1,000-member governing council, which will meet Sunday to vote on the compromise.It requires 60% of the vote in order to pass.Another element in the compromise is that a slot will be reserved for a candidate who has never been in the Knesset among every five places on the Meretz list.To encourage representation from the periphery, there will be polling stations wherever there are at least 35 Meretz members.Gal-On quit the Knesset three months ago in order to focus on her efforts in the party.Besides Gal-On, candidates for Meretz leader are expected to include MK Ilan Gilon and Avi Dabush, a party activist from Kibbutz Bror Hayil.