Gilon and Gal-on celebrate Meretz victory, 2012
Gilon and Gal-on celebrate Meretz victory, 2012 Flash 90

MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz) and party chief and former MK Zahava Gal-On announced today they will not run for Meretz Party leadership.

"I once again presented my candidacy in an attempt to bring about a political explosion on the Left that will bring together people from the Labor Party and the Joint List," Gal-On said in a statement. "People from civil society and outside the political system who share Meretz's vision and together can create a great left-wing force.

"But from conversations I had with people active all over the country in recent weeks, I understood that they wanted new leadership," said the former Knesset Member.

Gal-On, who has headed the far-left party since 2012, represented Meretz in the Knesset from 1999 until her resignation last October, a move she said would allow her to focus on her role as party chairwoman and her expanding the party's ranks.

MK Gilon also explained why he withdrew his candidacy, "With a heavy heart I cancel my candidacy for Meretz. I have undergone a medical incident that limits my ability to continue the campaign as I would like. I will continue to serve the public as chairman of the Meretz faction in the Knesset, and to promote the values for which you sent me to the Knesset.

"I want to thank the medical staff at Shaare Zedek Hospital for their dedicated care," added Gilon. "Our mission of creating a different left and a different Israel has not changed, and in the next few days we will convene the 'Reds', the largest and most significant political group in socialist Zionism, and we will make decisions regarding the continuation of our joint path."

Gal-on and Gilon in Knesset committee, 2016
Gal-on and Gilon in Knesset committee, 2016 Flash 90

Meretz primaries will be held on March 22, and seven candidates will remain in the race: MK Tamar Zandberg, party activist Avi Dabush, former Peace Now secretary Avi Buskila, and former gender disorientation activist Imre Kalman.

Other candidates are David Kashani, Ofir Paz, and David Naveh. If the primaries result in a second round, it will take place on March 28.

MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) said that "the departure of Zahava Gal-On from political life is unfortunate. An ideological and courageous leader who fought for principles. We will be lacking in the struggle for the character and values of Israel."