Israel elections: Dozens running for four seats in Labor

Meretz head: Small parties shouldn't run

MK Merav Michaeli. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
MK Merav Michaeli.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The fact that no polls have found that Labor would receive more than five seats in the March 23 election did not stop 59 candidates from joining Monday’s Labor primary race by Saturday night’s deadline.
Labor leader Merav Michaeli twice extended the deadline to join the race and to become a member of the party, which encouraged more and more candidates to pay the NIS 5,000 registration fee to run.
Following the primary, Michaeli will work to merge Labor with other parties by Thursday night’s deadline for lists to be submitted to the Central Elections Committee.
“Thousands have joined the party, and I am proud that there are so many candidates,” Michaeli said. “Immediately after the primary, I promise to work to make sure that no votes in the Center-Left bloc are thrown in the trash. I guarantee that no ego and no narrow personal interests will stop me.”
The candidates include Blue and White MK Ram Shefa, former Labor MKs Omer Bar-Lev and Nachman Shai, journalist Haim Har Zahav, strategist Emilie Moatti, Israeli Reform Movement head Rabbi Gilad Kariv, gay activist Oded Frid and Efrat councilwoman Nava Fruchter Katz.
“Israel is beaten, crumbling apart and torn,” Shai, who served in the 18th, 19th and 20th Knessets, wrote on social media. “I will join Merav [Michaeli] and the whole list to re-hoist our banners – the social one, the economic one, and the diplomatic one.”
Fruchter Katz, who made aliyah from West Hempstead, New York, registered some 2,000 people to Labor in recent days, mostly among immigrants from English-speaking countries.
“I promise everyone I will be their voice,” Fruchter Katz said. “I will be there for Anglos to make their aliyah easier for them and fight for their rights.”
One candidate who has decided not to run with Labor is current Labor MK and minister, Itzik Shmuli. He has been negotiating with Blue and White to run with Benny Gantz’s party in the election and to remain in the cabinet as part of Blue and White.
Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz called on parties formed in recent weeks who are not crossing the threshold to quit before the lists are submitted and not to waste votes.
“They need to make a difficult but honorable decision and leave the race and not allow votes to be wasted,” Horowitz said at a Shabbat cultural event in Ramat Gan sponsored by Democrat TV.
Israelis Party leader Ron Huldai resisted calls to quit the race. Instead, he intends to merge his party with others.
“We are starting a week that will be dramatic,” Huldai said. “Everyone needs to set aside their ego in order to unite to build a large political home for the entire Center-Left.”
The heads of the Hadash and Ra’am parties met on Saturday in an effort to resolve differences in the former Joint List. Those efforts are expected to continue all week.
The Green Movement reelected former Labor MK Stav Shaffir as its leader on Friday.

Hagay Hacohen contributed to this report.