Labor MK Merav Michaeli emerged victorious in Sunday’s Labor leadership primary and will immediately begin efforts to build a bond that will cross the electoral threshold and keep the historic party alive.
Michaeli is expected to meet as early as Monday with Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, founder of the Israelis Party. Huldai said he would initiate a meeting with Michaeli soon to build a Center-Left bloc.
“Merav is an important leader,” Huldai said. “We will unite in order to defeat Netanyahu and bring change to the State of Israel. This is what the public expects of us, and that is what we will do.”
In her victory speech, Michaeli called on former Labor supporters to “come home.” She said she was emotional about taking over the party once led by David Ben-Gurion and Yitzhak Rabin.
“Today we begin rebuilding the party,” she said, vowing to return Labor to be the ruling party it was.
Labor will recommend seeking peace agreements and will push for a new deal with Iran, she said.
The turnout in the race was only 26%, with 9,651 Labor members casting ballots out of the 37,102 who were eligible.
Michaeli won 77% of the vote, casino millionaire Avi Shaked 19% and advertising executive Gil Beilin 3%. Ethiopian immigrant educator Yitzhak Time and Efrat council woman Nava Fruchter Katz finished fourth and fifth, with 37 and 23 votes, respectively.
Michaeli is Labor’s third female leader, after Golda Meir and Shelly Yacimovich, and one of only two female party leaders, joining Bayit Yehudi’s Hagit Moshe, who was elected last week.
She replaced Economy Minister Amir Peretz, who did not run for re-election as Labor leader. Peretz issued a statement wishing her well.
A poll broadcast on Channel 13 predicted for the first time that Labor would cross the 3.25% electoral threshold, winning four seats. The poll found that Likud would win 32 seats, with Yesh Atid finishing a solid second at 18 mandates, well ahead of Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope Party, which fell to 14.
Running together, Lapid and Huldai would win 24 seats but still be well below Likud’s 32.
The poll of 694 respondents representing a statistical sample of the Israeli population had a margin of error of 3.7%.