Knesset lists close with no mergers in anti-Netanyahu camp

Ofer Shelah quits political race following failed merger talks with Labor.

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai (photo credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai
(photo credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai has announced he is withdrawing from next month’s election.
“Unfortunately, I did not succeed at my mission,” Huldai posted on Thursday evening, after talks with Labor leader Merav Michaeli to merge their two parties did not succeed. “Under the political circumstances that have developed, I know the responsible move for me to make is to take a step back, quit, and let others lead our effort to rehabilitate the country.”
The Israelis Party, which was announced with great fanfare and won eight seats in initial polls, did not cross the 3.25% electoral threshold in any recent survey.
Michaeli praised Huldai’s move and invited him to return to Labor.
Sources close to her said the reason talks did not work out with Huldai and with former Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah was that she wanted to give priority to the candidates who ran in Monday’s Labor primary.
“Unfortunately, the negotiations did not pan out,” Michaeli said earlier about Shelah. “Ofer is a respected friend and a terrific politician. I hope to see him join Labor soon, and I am sure we will cooperate in the future.”
In a Facebook post, Shelah explained that the decision was made in order to better the chances of replacing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the upcoming election.
“The Israeli Left has lost its way,” Shelah wrote, “leading to a loss of many votes to the far-right wing.”
In order to prevent the loss of votes to the Right, Shelah believes that the Israeli Left needs a “clear ideology with political capability,” which he has been trying to achieve with the establishment of the Tnufa party.
Referring to the failed merger talks with Michaeli, Shelah wrote that despite his efforts, a merger that would create a joint and established opposition to the dominant Right was not possible.
“Under these circumstances, I must uphold my promise to prevent the political camp trying to replace Netanyahu from losing more votes,” Shelah wrote. “Tnufa will not be running in the upcoming elections, and I won’t be either.”