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Will Israeli left unite after election defeat?

The resounding defeat of the Israeli left at the April 9 elections must serve as a wakeup call for lifting the banner of real equality among all Israelis along with a respectful and serious dialogue to end the Palestinian conflict.
Avi Gabbay, leader of the Labour party speaks as his party candidates stand behind him during an election campaign event in Kibbutz Nahal Oz, near the Gaza Strip border, in southern Israel March 7, 2019. Picture taken March 7, 2019. REUTERS/Amir Cohen - RC15F4569300

Shortly after voting ended and exit polls aired on April 9, Labor party politicos were already looking for scapegoats on whom to blame their plunge from 24 Knesset seats, garnered in the 2015 elections by the Zionist Camp that it led, to six. Less than 48 hours later, the party’s Secretary-General Eran Hermoni called on Labor Chair Avi Gabbay to step down, openly expressing the prevailing mood among many of his leadership colleagues, chief among them those who lost their Knesset seats due to the party’s poor election showing. The chair of the opposition in the outgoing Knesset, Labor Knesset member Shelly Yachimovich, was more guarded. In a lengthy post, Labor’s former party chair from 2011 to 2013 asked her followers “Where do we go from here?” and “How do we continue to express our political ideology?”

The battered left is once again seeking a magic cure by switching doctors. On Feb. 21, on the eve of the deadline for submitting the candidate lists for the upcoming elections, Yachimovich agreed in principle with Meretz Party Chair Tamar Zandberg that the two left-leaning parties should consider a merger in response to the merger announced between the centrist Yesh Atid, Israel Resilience and Telem parties — forming the new Blue and White party. But the initiative by Zandberg did not materialize. The day after the elections, Zandberg and Yachimovich were once again contemplating the idea. Former Meretz Chair Zehava Gal-On has already expressed support for expanding the left-wing front. In the past, she even held talks on the issue with the Arab-Jewish Hadash Party. This week, Gal-On told Al-Monitor that given the strongly right-wing Knesset just elected, Meretz and Labor should form a united front in the legislature with the two elected Arab factions.

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