(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Meretz MK and Knesset faction chairman Ilan Gilon has announced that he will run against party chairwoman MK Zehava Gal-On in the party’s leadership election.
Meretz is scheduled to hold a leadership primary in early 2019, or before the next election if an early vote is called.
“Meretz has a historic task of offering a clean alternative to the Israeli public, courageous and socialist,” said Gilon in his announcement.
“I will stand and lead Meretz to be a part of the broad process of replacing the government in the next election. I call on all Meretz members of Knesset to back and support me.”
Gilon said that it is “clear to everyone” that the election to the Knesset is imminent, in light of the “stench” from the criminal investigations into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which he said indicates the end of the road for the “Bibennet” government, a reference to Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett and his strong standing in the coalition.
Gilon, who has served as a Meretz MK since 1999, also said that Meretz needs a leadership that can reach out and attract a broader cross section of society to vote for the party.
“Meretz needs to be a big and broad political home for a large community that feels that the Left does not see them as equals. We need to be an open and accessible home which will be a central part of replacing the government and toppling the Netanyahu government in the next election.
Later this year, Meretz will elect a party congress, which comprises 1,000 members. As it stands, these congress members will be the ones to vote in the Meretz leadership primary, following the defeat of a proposal brought by Gal-On for open primaries.
Gal-On has said, however, that she will fight on to make the Meretz primaries open to the wider public, and will seek to advance this agenda via different avenues.
Gilon does not support an open primary, but says he will abide by the decision of the congress on this issue.
“If Meretz does not open up, it will simply cease to exist,” said Gal-On in response to the defeat of her motion.
“I will never raise my hands. I am ready to give up my role, but I won’t raise my hands. I don’t know why they are worried about opening up, and [why they] want to remain a closed-off club of friends.”