Merav Michaeli, the head of Israel’s opposition Labor Party, will retire from political life after serving out her current term in the Knesset, she announced on Thursday.
“The State of Israel is currently in a major crisis. … Israel needs to have a new beginning, a restart. And for that to happen, elections must be held, and I am convinced that Israel will go to elections in 2024,” Michaeli told reporters at a press conference in Tel Aviv.
“I am responsible for the situation of the party today, and I do not plan to stand in the primaries or for a place on the next Knesset list. I will be here to do everything to hand over the helm of leadership for the benefit of rebuilding the party,” she continued.
The Labor Party intends to hold a primary in four months, “in the hope that the war will end by then and the hostages will return home,” according to Michaeli.
The party, which historically dominated Israeli politics, received only 175,992 votes in last year’s general election, barely passing the 3.25% electoral threshold (four Knesset mandates).
However, if an election were held now, the Labor Party would fall below the threshold with just 2.2% of the vote, a survey published by the Maariv daily concluded late last month.
Former Labor lawmaker and public security minister Omer Bar-Lev told reporters in August that the left-wing party has “finished its historic role” in the Israeli political landscape and called on Michaeli to resign.
“It began when the party decided to lower its security flag to half-mast. Since then, we have been in decline,” lamented the former commander of the Israel Defense Forces’ elite General Staff Reconnaissance Unit.
Last month, Michaeli slammed the global political left for being “complicit” in Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre of more than 1,200 people in southern Israel, saying “something very bad is happening on the left.
“It became very clear in this attack that people who consider themselves to be democratic, progressive, are supporting a totalitarian terror regime that oppresses women [and] the LGBTQ+ community,” she said.