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Labor Party leader launches last-minute talks for merger with Meretz

Hours before the deadline to submit party lists for the April elections, new mergers on the left and right prompt Labor leader Avi Gabbay to try and work out a deal with the far-left Meretz Party.

Israeli Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay at a press conference in Tel Aviv on Oct. 1, 2017. Credit: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90.
Israeli Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay at a press conference in Tel Aviv on Oct. 1, 2017. Credit: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90.

After news early Thursday that Israel Resilience and Yesh Atid had worked out a rotating leadership deal and would be running as a joint list in the April 9 Knesset elections, Labor leader Avi Gabbay decided to hold last-minute negotiations to try and reach a merger agreement with Meretz.

According to a statement from the Labor Party, “Following a faction meeting, it was decided to look into every possibility to ensure a new government, while upholding the Labor Party’s values.”

Labor MK Itsik Shmuli was appointed to lead negotiations on his party’s behalf.

Opposition leader MK Shelly Yachimovich said on Thursday, “In light of the new political situation that has been created, we need to quickly and thoroughly examine the possibility of creating a bloc with Meretz for the campaign. Automatic opposition to that possibility will taint us forever if the new situation leads to Meretz disappearing and Labor collapsing.”

Meretz chairwoman Tamar Zandberg said: “Given the merger on the center-left, now is the time for the left to unite to form a center-left government. Meretz will leave no stone unturned to make that happen. We have 12 hours, and we invite Avi Gabbay to the negotiating table immediately.”

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