Meretz Party IN Israel members backed incumbent Members of Knesset and a Druze educator in the party’s first-ever primary on Thursday to lead the left-wing list's efforts together with leader Tamar Zandberg in the upcoming Knesset elections.
Twenty-three hopefuls ran in the primary which saw an impressive 83% of Meretz’s 21،000 members make their voices heard at the electronic ballot box. Recent polls have projected that the party will win between four and seven seats in the April 9 election. "This evening our mission is not simple،" said Zandberg following the vote. "We have a battle for the future of the State of Israel on our hands. The citizens of Israel will decide whether we will head toward a reality of occupation، desperation and racism، or in a new and hope-inspiring direction."
MKs Ilan Gilon، Michal Rozin، Esawi Frej and، for the first time، renowned Druze school principal Ali Shalalha will be among those aiming to secure election to the Knesset after securing top five places in the party list. Ethiopian-born Mehereta Baruch-Ron is placed sixth، and will also hope to reach the Knesset come April.
"For me، the Knesset is an instrument to realize the objectives of the Israeli public،" Shalalha told The Jerusalem Post after the results were announced.
"These are objectives of peace، equal distribution of resources، giving a boost to education in the periphery and healthcare. Without any doubt، we need to unite the Israeli people and not divide them."
There was disappointment، however، for MK Mossi Raz (7th place)، former party leadership hopeful Avi Buskila (8th)، head of the party’s periphery operations Avi Dabush (10th) and veteran Peace Now campaigner Yariv Oppenheimer (13th)، who all aimed to finish higher in the list.
Those fighting for the votes of the electorate in just over 50 days will do so with a strong mandate from party members، with the 83% voter turnout far exceeding the 58% turnout in the Likud primary and 56% in the Labor primary.
Zandberg will lead the party into a Knesset election for the first time after she won Meretz's first leadership primary in March 2018، succeeding Zehava Gal-On after six years as party leader.
"We will rise like a phoenix، just look at the list we have،" Gilon، who is set to serve in the Knesset for a fifth term، told Reshet Bet on Friday. "I think we will be the surprise of the elections، we have to reach a two-digit figure."
Questions still remain regarding a potential union between Meretz and Avi Gabbay’s Labor، with the latter currently projected to receive between eight and ten seats in the Knesset.
Earlier this week، approximately 100 left-wing activists from both parties met in Tel Aviv to discuss the possibility of running on a joint slate. The move was led by Young Labor chairman Tomer Pines and former Meretz MK and journalist Nitzan Horowitz.
Parties across the political spectrum hoping to unite must do so by February 21، the deadline to submit party lists.