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Israel's Labor Party chief: Netanyahu’s policies 'charade,' Gaza solution requires PA

In an exclusive interview, Israeli Labor leader Merav Michaeli squarely blamed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for emboldening far-right politicians and damaging relations with the United States.
Merav Michaeli (C), leader of Israel's Labour party and member of Knesset (parliament), speaks on the phone during a Knesset session in a red costume as a form of protest alluding to "The Handmaid's Tale" book and television series, in Jerusalem on March 15, 2023. (Photo by GIL COHEN-MAGEN / AFP) (Photo by GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP via Getty Images)

The Labor Party, once a vibrant leading force in Israel, now controls only four of the Knesset's 120 seats. But on Wednesday it made headlines by abstaining from a vote initiated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on rejecting "international dictates regarding the permanent settlement with the Palestinians" and against unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state. Ninety-nine Knesset members, including members of the centrist opposition party, Yesh Atid, voted in favor of the proposal. 

Labor leader Merav Michaeli argued that Netanyahu's proposal was intended to provoke the United States after reports emerged that Washington was mulling recognition of a Palestinian state. Michaeli has been a fierce critic of the far-right members of the Netanyahu government, arguing that their inflammatory rhetoric is harming both Israel's relations with the United States and perceptions of the Jewish state on the international stage.

"President Joe Biden is an especially strong friend of Israel and carries our interests at heart. The engagement of the Biden administration [on Israeli-Palestinian peace] is an opportunity. We should not let it pass," she told Al-Monitor. 

Michaeli, a former journalist, is a champion of the feminist cause and longtime activist for the protection of sexual harassment victims. After entering politics and joining the Labor party in 2013, she was elected chair of the party in 2021 and served as transportation minister under the Lapid-Bennett government in 2022. 

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