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Why did Israel Labor party chief Merav Michaeli quit politics?

Israeli Labor Chair Merav Michaeli says she will not run on the party ticket at the next elections and will not run at the primaries for the leadership position, as the party needs to heal after its low score in the last 2022 elections.
Merav Michaeli, Israel’s Labor party chief, on Oct. 20, 2022.

Surprising Israelis — including her own party members — opposition party Labor Chair Merav Michaeli announced Thursday she plans to quit politics and will not run again for a Knesset seat or for the leadership of the party. Michaeli will stay as chair until the next elections. 

Michaeli's move comes during the Israel-Hamas war and with opposition politicians calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign. Netanyahu has indicated so far that he intends to stay in his position throughout the war, and only after it ends will he offer responses to the military and political failures surrounding the Oct. 7 Hamas attack.

While the timing of Michaeli’s announcement surprised many, several of her party colleagues have been pushing her this past year to take responsibility for the Labor’s failure in the November 2022 elections where it scored only four seats, the minimum required to pass the Knesset-entry threshold. No other party members have stated so far that they would run for the position. 

Addressing journalists, Michaeli, 57, said, “The state of Israel is currently in a major crisis. Out of this terrible rupture, Israel needs to have a new beginning — a restart. And for that to happen, elections must be held, and I am convinced that Israel will go to elections in 2024.” Michaeli then said that to prepare for these expected elections, she intends to bring forward primaries for the leadership of the Labor party and hold them four months from now.

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