The leftist Meretz party held its nominating convention for January's Knesset election on Sunday, as about 1,000 delegates were asked to determine the party's list for the Knesset in balloting at the Tel Aviv Exhibition Grounds.
MK Ilan Gilon was chosen for the second place on the list, after party chairwoman MK Zahava Galon. Gilon was followed in third place by MK Nitzan Horowitz. Galon, Gilon and Horowitz are the party’s three currently serving MKs. Horowitz was followed by Michal Rozin in fourth place and Esawi Frej in fifth place, which is reserved for a representative of the Arab sector. Two of the party’s former MKs, Avshalom Vilan and Mossi Raz, placed sixth and seventh.
90.5% of eligible voters took part in the primaries, according to statistics published on Sunday night. After the results were made public, party chairwoman Galon said that "our people are talented and ideological. I'm so glad we are going together. Meretz has doubled its strength in the polls and it will continue to grow and we will even triple our strength. We are still early into the campaign and the victory is not in Netanyahu’s pocket. We are leftists and we are proud."
MK Gilon said, "I will continue to fight for the invisible people, whose voices are not heard, and against the inequality and injustice in Israeli society in the next Knesset."
He added, "Meretz is the only home of the ideological left, which puts the people first. Our voters know what they will get, and unlike trendy parties and various centrist parties, we will not give up our ideology for a chair in the Netanyahu government."
At its peak, Meretz had 12 Knesset seats in the elections that were held in 1992. However, since then it has steadily dropped in the number of seats and only achieved three seats in the 2009 elections.
The party is hoping to regain some of its strength in the upcoming elections at the expense of the Labor party. The party is directly attacking Labor leader Shelly Yechimovich and saying the party under her leadership has gone too much to the center of the political map.
Meretz is planning to attack Labor by criticizing Yechimovich for being “too nice” to religious Israelis.
When Yechimovich was elected Labor Party head last year, she said that she saw an alliance between Labor and religious parties as “natural,” pointing to previous governments where both Agudath Israel and the National Religious Party were members of Labor-led governments.
After being chosen Labor head, Yechimovich told Kol Chai Radio, in response to a question about what kind of government she would try to organize in the next election, that she “definitely sees [Hareidi and religious parties] as worthy partners,” despite the fact that there was a “wide ideological gulf between myself and the Hareidim.”
Members of Meretz recently met with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. They expressed support for the PA’s complaints against Israel, after Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman sent a letter to the International Quartet calling for Abbas to be replaced.
“The Palestinian side has no partner for peace,” Galon declared during the meeting with Abbas. Galon and her fellow MKs sympathized with the PA’s anger against Lieberman, saying that he should have been dismissed for his remarks.
Galon came under fire several months ago for a serious slip of the tongue while speaking to Army Radio.
While discussing the influence Diaspora Jews exert in Israel, Galon expressed frustration at the possibility of “Jew-boys” (the derogatory word is Yehudonim in Hebrew) deciding Israel’s fate.
“If 10 mandates [in Knesset] are enough to change how Israel determines whether to go to war with Iran or not,” she said. “Organized groups will come from Brooklyn and get the right to vote. All the decisions about life and death here, whether to evacuate the territories, whether to authorize outposts, those sitting in New York or Brooklyn will decide for us?
“Groups of Jew-boys… Jews, organized in the Diaspora, will decide how we live here?” Galon continued, quickly correcting her mistake.
Galon later told Arutz Sheva that the word had been “a slip of the tongue, I don’t know how it happened, and I corrected myself immediately.” She added, “If somebody was hurt, I apologize. Don’t analyze this or start to give it any hidden meanings.”