From left to right (Attn Gaby Lasky, MK Issawi Frej, MK and Meretz chair Tamar Zandberg, Mossi Raz at Meretz press conference Monday morning.
(photo credit: COURTESY MERETZ)
Former Meretz chair MK Tamar Zandberg topped the party’s primary election on Thursday and will take the number-two spot on its electoral list after new chairman Nitzan Horowitz, while MK Michal Rozin dropped three places from third to sixth.
MK Ilan Gillon will occupy third place after Zandberg, followed by current MK Esawi Frej, former MK Mossi Raz, and Rozin in sixth.
Former Peace Now director Gabi Laski took the seventh spot followed by Druze candidate Ali Salalah, who dropped three places to eight, and Ethiopian-Israeli candidate and former deputy Tel Aviv mayor Mehereta Baruch-Ron, who also dropped three places to ninth spot.
Social activist Yaniv Sagi took the tenth spot.
The Meretz primaries come as calls have grown louder for unity deals on the political Left.
Horowitz has met with both Labor Party leader MK Amir Peretz and the new Israel Democratic Party headed by Ehud Barak, to examine the possibilities of running on a united list of left-wing parties.
Labor MK and erstwhile leadership candidate Stav Shaffir has acknowledged the party’s fallen electoral fortunes and said it required Labor to run with other parties and not waste votes on the Left.
“Right now the right thing to do is run together and not waste mandates to despondency and apathy,” Shaffir wrote on Twitter.
“We want to build a strong Israeli Left: Labor-Meretz-Barak. A democratic bloc. 21 days [left]. Unity now.”
Not everyone in Meretz is enamored, however, with the idea of running on a joint list, with opposition in particular from party MK Esawi Frej to a union with Barak and his party.
“To Ehud Barak, I am speaking personally as an Arab citizen.... Do us a favor, give up on splitting the center-left. Go back to your luxury towers and let us do the work,” Frej said on Wednesday.
“I, as an Arab, I will not forget the October events,” he added in reference to the protests and riots by Israeli Arabs in 2000 in which 13 protesters were killed in clashes with the police.
Meretz formally launched its election campaign this past week, which included an emphasis on the rights of secular Israelis.
Horowitz denied that there was conflict between religious and secular citizens, but rather laid the blame for such tensions at the feet of the religious-Zionist and haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties.
“It is the religious parties which are trying to force a way of life on me which goes against my beliefs and world view,” he told Ynet.
“It is not just religious people have beliefs and values and a world perspective. I am a secular person and I have feelings and values and there is a need to be considerate of me. We should not be disparaged. We are free people and this is a free country and we need to fight over this.”
The party has published campaign ads to this effect, declaring, “[Arye] Deri and [Ya’acov] Litzman, you won’t believe it, secular people have feelings, too,” in reference to the leaders of Shas and United Torah Judaism, which frequently claim that violations of religious law offend religious citizens.
“We are offended when pictures of women are vandalized, angry when religious organizations enter our children’s classrooms to make them religious, are offended when there are no buses on Shabbat, and are frightened when LGBTs are attacked,” declared Meretz on social media.
“We feel that our way of life is under attack.”
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