ran cohen 224 88.
(photo credit: Knesset Web site)
Meretz suffered its second blow in less than a week on Saturday night when veteran MK Ran Cohen announced that he would join former party chairman Yossi Beilin in not running for the next Knesset.
Cohen, a reserve IDF colonel who first entered the Knesset in 1984, was considered Meretz's only authority on security issues and its spokesman on socioeconomic issues.
The party's only Sephardi MK, Cohen passed groundbreaking legislation that paved the way for public housing and the initiation of a minimum wage.
Meretz recently made it much harder for its incumbent MKs to get reelected, requiring them to receive the support of 60 percent of the party's convention members.
Sources in Meretz said that even Cohen's closest supporters in the party would not have backed him, because they wanted to enter the Knesset.
Cohen, 71, said he felt confident that he would have returned to the Knesset, but that it was time to make way for younger faces in the party.
He said he hoped that former MKs Mossy Raz and Ilan Gillon could help ensure that the party would retain its emphasis on socioeconomic issues and not just diplomatic matters.
"It wasn't easy for me, but a man needs to know when to end one chapter and move on to another one," Cohen said. "Everyone in Meretz encouraged me to stay, but I decided over the weekend with my family that after running for party leader unsuccessfully twice in the last four years, it was time to enable Meretz to build a new, younger team that could thrive."
Cohen said he would now turn his attention to writing an autobiography, lecturing in universities and various commercial and public endeavors.
"I've been in public service for 29 years," Cohen said. "After all that time, I deserve to work for my soul. I ran for the leadership of Meretz and offered the party a different direction and I wasn't chosen. I had to decide my future after that and I decided it was enough. There is no point in people like me continuing to stagnate in politics."
Meretz leader Haim Oron, who defeated Cohen in March's Meretz leadership race, called him "a symbol of the Left's obligation to fight for social justice" and said he hoped Cohen would continue to serve the country in any capacity he saw fit.
Beilin announced last Tuesday that he was retiring from politics to enter business. Unlike Cohen, who intends to remain in the Knesset until after the February 10 general election, Beilin will hand in his resignation to Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik on Sunday morning.
The resignation will take effect 48 hours later, and the next name on the Meretz list, haredi peace activist and author Dr. Tzvia Greenfield, will enter the Knesset. She serves as the director of the Mifne Institute for Democracy and Cultural Identity, an educational think tank concentrating on issues of Jewish identity and civic culture, and is a member of the executive of the human rights organization B'Tselem.
A native Israeli, Greenfield has lived in Boston, New York and Los Angeles and currently resides in Jerusalem's Har Nof neighborhood.
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