Labor MKs to jump ship, join Meretz?

Lawmakers from Labor party mull leaving for far-left Meretz faction, as polls show Labor plummeting from 24 seats - to as few as 9.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

MK Nachman Shai
MK Nachman Shai
Miriam Alster/Flash90

At least five MKs from the Zionist Union are considering abandoning the party and moving to the far-left Meretz faction ahead of the elections for the 21st Knesset.

Following the decision earlier this week by the governing coalition to endorse the dissolving of the 20th Knesset and bumping up of elections from November 2019 to April 9th, Knesset members from the parliament’s second largest party have been considering the possibility of leaving and seeking a higher position on a smaller party’s list.

In 2015, the Zionist Union list – a joint venture of Labor and the smaller Hatnuah faction – won 24 seats.

Recent polls, however, show the Zionist Union losing most of its strength, and dropping to between 9 to 11 mandates.

That’s led some Zionist Union MKs to consider the possibility of looking outside the party for better chances of retaining their seats.

According to a report by Channel 2, MKs Nachman Shai, Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin, Eitan Cabel, Mickey Rosenthal, and Yossi Yona met Wednesday to discuss breaking off from Labor as a group and forming a joint list with the far-left Meretz party.

None of the MKs who took part in the meeting won positions on the Zionist Union list in 2015 which would now be considered “safe”, or guaranteed to secure representation in the next Knesset.

The five MKs reached no formal agreement during their meeting Wednesday, and would need to convince another three Zionist Union MKs to back the venture in order to secure official recognition as a “break-away faction”. Such factions must secure support from one-third of the party in order to be recognized.

MK Itzik Shmuli blasted the five lawmakers, accusing them of threatening the party’s electoral prospects.

“I would never consider the idea of a split, which could seriously harm the party and our chances of getting a different government in power – and all because of personal ambitions.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home), hinted that a similar split was possible on the right, between the Jewish Home and National Union factions, which ran on a joint list in 2015.

“Bennett and Shaked think that we have no other choice but to run with them, so they aren’t changing their positions right now. But we can run another party besides the Jewish Home.”