MK Orly Levy Abekasis to split from left wing, sit as independent

The Gesher Party leader had joined with Labor-Meretz for the recent election, but opposes a minority government propped up by the support of Arab parties.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Knesset member Orly Levy Abekasis filed an official request Tuesday to split off her Gesher Party from its left-wing union with the Labor and Meretz parties, Walla reported.

Levy Abekasis will sit as a one-person faction in the Knesset after rejecting the support by Labor and Meretz for a proposed minority government that would be based on the support of Israel’s Arab political parties.

With opinion polls last year showing her centrist Gesher Party would not get elected and with support dwindling for Israel’s left-wing parties, Levy Abekasis joined with Labor and Meretz to form a three party union that managed to win only seven seats in the March 2 election. Part of the unification agreement was for Gesher to be an independent faction, which gave the party the option to split off from the left-wing group and sit in Israel’s parliament as a single faction.

When Labor and Meretz approved opposition leader Benny Gantz’s proposal to try to form a new minority government with the support of the Arab Joint List’s 15 seats, Levy Abekasis said she would not back the move.

Last week Meretz member Tamar Zandberg harshly criticized Levy Abekasis for going against what are now her two former left-wing partners, saying it was a betrayal of the voters who had put her in office.

“Orly Levy has no mandate to steal the votes of leftists, who voted for the party list knowing what it was,” Zandberg said. She must “vacate and resign.”

When the election results were announced Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could only muster the support of 58 members, three short of the majority needed in the 120-seat Knesset. With the Arab parties behind him, Gantz got the support of 61 members and has four weeks to form a coalition government.