(Israel Hayom via JNS) Israel’s left-wing Labor-Gesher and Meretz parties announced on Monday, Jan. 13 that they will merge ahead of the country’s March 2 elections. The decision followed what talks between Labor leader Amir Peretz and Meretz head Nitzan Horowitz. Both parties fear one of them could fail to clear the 3.25 percent electoral threshold (roughly four Knesset seats) required to enter the Knesset. Talks between the parties ahead of Israel’s April 9 and Sept. 17 elections about a possible joint run were unsuccessful. Ahead of the September elections, Labor instead merged with Gesher, headed by Orly Levy-Abekasis, a former Yisrael Beiteinu lawmaker, while Meretz partnered with former Labor politicians to form the Democratic Union.
Briefing his party on the merger, Peretz reportedly said, “We have no choice but to unite.” Senior Labor MK Itzik Shmuli said on Sunday morning that he supported a merger, but only as a “technical bloc” that could potentially separate soon after the elections.