Far Left MK Zehava Gal-on to Quit Knesset

The Knesset building, Yerushalayim.

Meretz party head Zehava Gal-on said Wednesday that she would resign from the Knesset. In a letter to Knesset speaker MK Yuli Edelstein, Gal-on said she would spend the next several months grooming a new Knesset whip for the party, and then resign. She will, however, remain as chairperson of Meretz, filling a role similar to that of Zionist Camp head Avi Gabay, who is not a Knesset member either. Next on the Meretz list for a Knesset seat is longtime left-wing activist Moussi Raz.

Gal-on’s declaration comes a week before primaries in the party, with polls indicating that she is not doing as well as she would like. In any event, Gal-on declared that she felt it would be proper to resign because the party needs new leadership if it is to grow. In the letter, Gal-on wrote that she hoped that by this time, the party membership – and its Knesset representation – would grow, but that this was not the case. To bring growth for the party, Meretz needs a full time recruiter, she wrote.

“I am leaving the Knesset with a heavy heart,” she wrote to Edelstein. “I am proud of having served for 16 years on behalf of the struggle for justice for all, for the rights of Palestinians in Israel and the territories, against economic and government corruption, and for the closing of social gaps.” In order to help the party grow, “I am planning to work for the growth of Meretz into an ‘open house’ for many more Israelis, for all those who share our values.”

She also expressed dissatisfaction with the way MKs are chosen in the party, and plans to work to change that as well. “I love the Knesset, but I love Meretz even more. I realize that if Meretz does not develop, there will be no more Meretz. In order to realize its potential the party must change. I am positive that this move will enable me to concentrate on bringing about that change.”

This was not Gal-on’s first mea culpa. After the 2015 elections, when the party achieved just six Knesset seats instead of the nine or ten it expected, Gal-on wrote to Meretz voters that “no one in our camp should dare to say that the voters disappointed us. Just the opposite; we disappointed them. Israelis don’t owe me anything, I owe them. If the Israeli public decided to reduce the power of Meretz, if it decided to give Binyamin Netanyahu another round as Prime Minister, I have to come to the appropriate conclusions. It is also the responsibility of Meretz to examines its ways and discover its conscience anew,” she wrote.