Barak merges with Meretz

Israel’s Meretz party and Ehud Barak’s Israel Democratic Party this morning announced they will merge.

Labour MK Stav Shaffir also announced that she will leave Labour and join the new party which will be called the Democratic Camp. Announcing the merger they said: “The initiators of this union believe that establishing the ‘Democratic Camp’ is an initial and crucial step to bring the State of Israel back on track.”

The combined party list will include four Meretz politicians in the top ten, two Labour politicians and four Israel Democratic Party leaders. Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz will lead the list, followed by Stav Shaffir and former IDF Deputy Chief of Staff, Yair Golan from the Israel Democratic Party. Meretz have places four to six, including former party leader Tamar Zandberg. A Labour candidate of Shaffir’s choice will take eighth spot, while Barak has agreed to take tenth place for himself. His party also have the seventh and ninth spots.

Barak is also reported to have negotiated the first choice of ministerial posts if the party enters the government. He will not need to be a Member of the Knesset to become a minister.

Shaffir and others in the Labour party had previously been highly critical of Labour leader Amir Peretz’s decision to merge with Orly Levy’s Gesher party and not merge with Barak or Meretz.

Former Meretz leader Tamar Zandberg praised the merger saying: “This a dramatic step to strengthen the left wing. Broadening the ranks strengthens the positions of justice and equality as an alternative to the messianic and corrupt right wing.”

The Labour Party also welcomed the merger, saying: “This move will prevent votes from going to a party that wouldn’t have passed the electoral threshold, and that would have squandered center-left votes.”

Meretz sources had said yesterday that Horowitz was hesitant about a merger with Barak, due to opposition from Arab-Israelis due to the controversy regarding the death of 13 Arab Israelis in October 2000 when Barak was Prime Minister. Barak apologised for that incident earlier this week and that was interpreted as a condition of the merger.