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Meretz hopes to restore Israeli left to its glory days

The growth of the Meretz Party in the polls has become a draw for young people who want to return the left to its glory days: “We will not apologize for our agenda. We are standing up against the right,” says Uri Zaki, who is responsible for the party’s reorganization efforts.
A supporter of the left wing Meretz party campaigning for municipal elections hangs balloons next to campaign posters of Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat in Jerusalem October 22, 2013. REUTERS/Baz Ratner (JERUSALEM - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS) - RTX14JPY
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Operation Protective Edge put a sudden stop to the momentum that the Meretz Party had been enjoying since the last elections in January 2013. In the months leading up to the campaign, the left-wing party has managed to soar in the polls, which gave it as many as 12 seats. Not only would this have doubled the size of its Knesset delegation, which won six seats in the last election, but the number 12 itself has mythical symbolism in Meretz's history. It represents the party’s glory days, back in 1992, when it was headed by Shulamit Aloni. In the elections that year, the party won 12 seats and joined Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s government.

Ever since that record achievement, Meretz has shrunk considerably, losing its appeal and freshness, much like the rest of the Israeli left. In the 2009 elections, the party reached the low point of three seats. At the time, young people distanced themselves from it, and most of its voters and members were elderly. On the eve of the most recent elections, Meretz was about to vanish from the political landscape. Under the leadership of Zehava Gal-On, however, the party had a surprising recovery and walked away from the elections with a respectable outcome.

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