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Labor, Meretz unite to form new party: ‘The Democrats’

The Labor-Meretz unification is meant to "replace the worst government" in Israel's history, the party's new leader claimed.

Members of the new "Democrats." Credit: Courtesy.
Members of the new "Democrats." Credit: Courtesy.

Israel’s Labor and Meretz parties announced on Sunday that they will unite into a new party, called the “Democrats.”

The new party will be led by Yair Golan, an ex-Meretz Party lawmaker and former Israel Defense Forces deputy chief of staff who was elected as Labor leader on May 28 with over 95% of the votes.

According to the deal, two Knesset seats will be assured for Meretz members in the list’s top 10, one in the top four and a second in the top eight.

“One of the goals I set for us is to create connections that will lead to the exploitation of the camp’s electoral potential,” said Golan.

“Today we have built a framework that will serve the public as best as possible on the way to promoting elections and replacing the worst government since the establishment of the state,” he added.

Meretz Secretary General Tomer Reznik said, “This union is a double correction—it is a correction of the past, but it is primarily a correction for the future—because without the union and without the integration of the ideology and ideas of the parties along with their translation into a significant political force, there will be no correction for the State of Israel.”

Meretz is currently not in the Knesset, having failed for the first time since its formation in 1992 to pass the electoral threshold, the minimum number of votes necessary to enter Israel’s parliament.

A Channel 12 poll in mid-May showed a hypothetical Labor-Meretz party headed by Golan would win eight Knesset seats.

Golan is a hard-left politician who has made controversial statements, most famously in 2016, when as deputy chief of staff he compared recent developments in Israel to those that unfolded in Germany before the Holocaust.

“Nauseating trends that occurred in Europe generally and in Germany specifically back then—70, 80 and 90 years ago—are now present among us,” he asserted.

Golan more recently got into hot water when he appeared to call for reservists to refuse service in the Israel Defense Forces, during a war, in order to bring down the government.

In June 2023, the Israel Police announced it had launched an investigation into Golan’s calls for civil unrest to oppose Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s now-shelved judicial reform initiative.

Golan had drawn criticism from Netanyahu’s ruling coalition after urging a “large-scale and nonviolent uprising” against the government.

A year earlier, while serving as a deputy economy minister in the Bennett-Lapid government on behalf of the Meretz Party, Golan was forced to issue a formal apology after he described the Jewish residents of the Homesh outpost in Samaria as “subhuman.”

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