Bookstore Glossary Library Links News Publications Timeline Virtual Israel Experience
Anti-Semitism Biography History Holocaust Israel Israel Education Myths & Facts Politics Religion Travel US & Israel Vital Stats Women
donate subscribe Contact About Home

Israel Political Parties: Meretz

Meretz ("Energy," in Hebrew) is a left-wing, social-democratic political party in Israel.

Meretz was originally founded in 1992 through a union of three other left wing political parties - Ratz, Mapam and Shinui. Ratz's leader, veteran Knesset member Shualmit Aloni was pegged as the new party's leader on their electoral list.

Meretz's platform states that the party stands for "A Just and Comprehensive Peace between Israel and its Neighbors; Human and Civil Rights; Social Justice; and, Ecology and a Safe Environment.

In the 1992 elections, Meretz won 12 seats, becoming the third largest party in Israel, and it joined the governing coalition of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

During the 1996 elections, Meretz was headed by Yossi Sarid and it obtained nine seats and joined the opposition. It won ten seats in elections for the 15th Knesset.

In June 2005, following an initiative by party leader Yossi Beilin to win back voters who had defected from Meretz to the center-left Labor Party and the secular Shinui Party. the party was renamed Meretz-Yahad. The decision was a compromise between those who favored the name Yahad and others who preferred the party’s original name. In the next election cycle in 2006, however, Meretz dropped Yahad from its official name and won five seats in the Knesset.

In March 2008, Haim Oron won inter-party elections and was named Meretz's new leader. A few months later the party merged with Hatnua HaHadasha ("the new movement") but ended up winning only three seats in the 2009 Knesset elections.

In 2012, Zahava Gal-On became the new head of Meretz and helped lead the party to doubling its representation in Knesset by winning six seats in the January 2013 elections.

Zahava Gal-On was re-elected as Meretz Party leader on January 19, 2015.  Analysts predict that the newly formed union of the Labor and Hatnuah parties, dubbed the “Zionist Union” may siphon off potential Meretz voters during the March election. 

Meretz was the last party to pass the increased threshold qualifying for representation in the 20th Knesset. Coming in last place, they will have four seats in the Knesset.

Sources: Meretz; Wikipedia