Labor Party Chair Avi Gabbay.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
A week after Labor leader Avi Gabbay ended Labor’s partnership with the Hatnua party of MK Tzipi Livni, The Jerusalem Post learned that Gabbay has sought a partnership with the dovish religious-Zionist Meimad party.
Meimad ran together with Labor in three elections, starting in 1999, when it was part of the One Israel alliance formed by Ehud Barak. Meimad leader Rabbi Michael Melchior has served as a minister, deputy minister and MK for the alliance, and Rabbi Yehuda Gilad and Tova Ilan also served as MKs for the party.
The party, which is a Hebrew acronym for Jewish state democratic state, was founded 30 years ago by Har Etzion yeshiva head Rabbi Yehuda Amital and was relaunched in June after a period of inactivity.
Gabbay initiated meetings with Melchior. But the poor showing of Labor in the polls could make completing an agreement a challenge.
“Our party has been renewed, and we have had contacts with more than one party about running together,” Melchior said. “We won’t run at any price. If we see a possibility of advancing our ideals, we will be in the next Knesset and if we don’t, we wont. We are encouraged that there are many who want our voice to be heard in the Knesset and not just in civil society.
While Meimad would choose its candidate for the Knesset democratically, one candidate who has been talked about is Meitarim education system director-general Ranit Budaie-Hyman.
A spokeswoman for Gabbay said he and his associates “will not address the issue.” One source close to Gabbay said another factor could be the performance in the February 11 Labor primary of the only religiously observant MK in Labor, MK Revital Swid.
“I welcome any partnership or any other political step that will enable the replacement of the current bad government that is destroying our democracy and threatening our legal gatekeepers,” Swid said.
Gabbay will only reveal his choices for the slots reserved for his choice of candidates after the primary when he sees the candidates chosen by Labor’s 60,000 members. The slots reserved for Gabbay’s candidates are second, 10th and 16th on the list.
There is expected to be a battle over the reserved slots in Thursday’s Labor convention at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds.
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