Prime Minister Yair Lapid, Labor Party leader and Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli and Meertz leader Zehava Galon will meet on Saturday night at Lapid's request in order to discuss a potential merger, the three announced on Thursday.
With the deadline for political parties to hand in their lists for the upcoming election this Thursday, the biggest question remains whether Labor and Meretz will merge and form a joint list, or whether each will run independently.
Michaeli has insisted all along that she opposes a merger. She reaffirmed this in an interview on Thursday with Walla News, saying she would not change her stance.
“There is no logic in such a run,” she said. “The only time we tried it failed, it brought much fewer seats and Bibi [Netanyahu]. Last time we ran separately and won 13 seats, and this will happen again.”
Michaeli said she would decline even if Lapid offers to reserve a number of spots for Labor candidates in the Yesh Atid list if they do not make it into the Knesset.
“This is not about jobs and placements, it is a worldview and values,” she said. In the end, the purpose is to save the State of Israel and bring it back to the Zionist path. That is the goal.”
Galon's and Michaeli's responses to Lapid
Late on Thursday, at the start of a faction meeting in Tel Aviv, Michaeli said, “I received the prime minister’s invitation and of course I will come with an openness to discuss the issue. My central goal is to prevent the return of the Right to the government. The issue we will discuss will be the best way to do so.”
A message circulated on Thursday calling on people to demonstrate outside of Michaeli’s home in favor of the merger.
Galon responded to Lapid’s invitation to the meeting, saying, “Of course I will come, perhaps even with a cake and a drink without a straw.”
Meretz MK Gabi Lasky said in response to Michaeli’s earlier refusal to the merger, “According to all the trend lines, Meretz is passing the electoral threshold and Labor is in a downward trend. Out of responsibility for the bloc, Meretz is still willing to consider the merger if necessary, in order to prevent the loss of mandates below the electoral threshold.”
Michaeli reportedly has opposed the merger out of concern that if the two parties merge, Lapid could attempt to draw voters away from them in order to enlarge his own party, Yesh Atid. By remaining separate, Lapid will have to back off so as not to have either party risk falling below the electoral threshold.