Labor-Gesher Calls for Unity on Center-Left

Amir Peretz, co-leader of the Labor-Gesher party at an opening event for the new election headquarters in Tel Aviv. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Unification efforts on both sides of the Israeli political divide were continuing on Tuesday.

Labor-Gesher party leader Amir Peretz called for all three center-left parties to run together in the upcoming March elections.

“My proposal is to form a united bloc of Labor-Gesher, Blue and White and the Democratic Camp,” Peretz told Channel 12.

“We will create a move that has never been made in Israel,” he says. “One ballot for replacing Netanyahu, one ballot for replacing the government.”

Meanwhile, National Union party chairman and interim Transport Minister Betzalel Smotrich refused a summons from Prime Minister Netanyahu on Tuesday, to discuss unification on the right, according to the Walla website.

Smotrich reportedly sent word to Netanyahu: “Don’t interfere with religious Zionism, we don’t need mediation. We know how to solve things without help.”

The minister had been called to participate in a meeting with Netanyahu, Jewish Home Chairman and interim Education Minister Rabbi Rafi Peretz and Rabbi Chaim Druckman. Presumably, the item on the agenda was to be Smotrich’s unwillingness to date to join the Jewish Home-Otzma Yehudit alliance. Unless his party can be brought into the deal to make a threesome, all three might fail to pass the electoral threshold, effectively disenfranchising tens of thousands of voters and wrecking hopes for a Netanyahu-led majority.

According to some reports, Smotrich is seeking an alternate alliance, with New Right instead, led by Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, Arutz Sheva reported.