Famous figures backing Meretz? Labor is unfazed

Authors Oz, Grossman, former Labor MKs Burg, Baram rumored to be among its members.

Avraham Burg 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Avraham Burg 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Reports that authors Amos Oz and David Grossman and former Labor politicians such as Avraham Burg and Uzi Baram are organizing a group that will back Meretz for the next Knesset did not seem to worry Labor MKs on Monday. Meretz Party chairman MK Haim Oron is said to be behind the move. According to the reports, he met in recent weeks with several prominent figures on the Israeli left in an attempt to receive their support for his party. Meretz, which won 12 mandates in 1992, has only five in the current Knesset. Oron refused to confirm the details on Monday, but said he praised any initiative to join and strengthen Meretz in the upcoming elections. "It is important to strengthen the Israeli Left in a significant way," Oron said Monday. "The social-economical crisis doesn't skip Israel and, together with the urgent political needs and the demand to fill the vacuum created on the political map, I hope that we will offer the voter a strong, attractive alternative that will include prominent figures and political groups that we are in the process of consolidating," Oron added. Nonetheless, Labor MKs rejected the idea that such a move might weaken Labor, which recent polls show is losing many supporters. Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog said that this was just a tempest in a teacup that would calm down. "The center-left camp in Israel forgets that it may lose its power if it votes for small left-wing parties such as Meretz," he said. National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said he had spoken to all the people reportedly considering backing Meretz and even running on its list. "They told me they have never considered such a thing. I am not concerned about it at all because I think that the Labor Party will restore its success and surprise everyone," Ben-Eliezer said, adding that he had recently encountered many people who expressed their disappointment with Kadima. Labor Secretary-General MK Eitan Cabel also dismissed the concerns. "These sorts of groupings are typical around election time, but they usually don't evolve into anything serious," he said. Labor MK Nadia Hilou said that Meretz had always been an important left-wing party but it had never posed a threat to Labor. "The Labor Party is a governing party, it is not a small party and it has already led broad political initiatives. There are changes on the political map, with people who have joined Kadima and Likud, and that is a natural thing before elections, but it doesn't constitute a threat to the quality team that Labor presents," Hilou said.