Israel’s Labor party chief Amir Peretz informed MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) that their parties are no longer merged, after running together in the last election, along with the party of MK Orly Levy-Abecasis. Levy quit the merger weeks ago in response to the Left’s attempts to form a coalition with the anti-Zionist Joint Arab List.
Peretz announced that he is joining Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s unity coalition, after Blue&White MK Benny Gantz announced the same move. Gantz’s Blue&White party then, as expected, broke up into its component parts following Gantz’s announcement, with Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid and Moshe Ya’alon heading to the Opposition, while Gantz’s faction, along with Gabi Ashkenazi, Yoaz Hendel and Zvi Hauser negotiate to enter Netanyahu’s coalition.
Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg declared that move ended Peretz’s honorable political career turning him into a criminal opportunist, and that is the way it will be written up in the history books. And if the radical leftwing Meretz party ever gets to rewrite the history books, she’ll be right.
The move leaves Meretz with only three seats. Peretz also had only three seats, but Labor MK Meirav Michaeli, who leans hard left, said she will sit in the Opposition, so now Labor is down to two. Update: On Sunday morning, Michaeli announced that she will be staying with her party, and reluctantly be part of the Netanyahu-led coalition.
Peretz’s two-man party is reportedly set to get two ministries, the same as the six-man Yamina party run by Minister Naftali Bennett. Peretz will be appointed Economic Minister, while Labor MK Itzik Shmuli will get Social Welfare. The Bedouin division will be transferred to the Economic ministry.
Reports indicate that the major roadblock at the moment in the coalition negotiations is Gantz’s opposition to applying sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and Israeli communities in Judea & Samaria, something Netanyahu promised to do right away after forming a coalition.