Palestinians hail Meretz party leader as sympathetic to their cause

“The struggle to end the occupation is alive and well,” wrote a senior Fatah official in his congratulatory message to Zehava Gal-On.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Palestinians have hailed the newly elected leader of Meretz as a friend who was “sympathetic to their cause,” Channel 12 revealed exclusively Wednesday evening.

The news site got hold of a letter that Muhammad al-Madani, chairman of the Palestinian Committee for Interaction with Israeli Society, sent to Zehava Gal-On earlier in the day, once the vote count showed that the former leader of the extreme leftist party had regained her position after quitting politics in 2018.

Calling Gal-On and all members of Meretz his “dear friends,” al-Madani “warmly” congratulated Gal-On on her victory in the party primaries “on behalf of the Palestinian leadership.”

Al-Madani is a member of the Central Committee of Fatah, the majority faction that runs the Palestinian Authority.

Writing in excellent Hebrew, he noted, “You moved us all in your victory speech by saying: ‘The struggle for equality between Jews and Arabs is alive and well, and the struggle to end the occupation and for peace is alive and well,’ something that attests to the serious and courageous guidelines found in the Meretz platform. Wishing you strength and good luck.”

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According to the ultra-Orthodox news site Behadrei Haredim, right-wing critics were outraged by the show of Palestinian support, warning that it was a sign of what was to come if a left-wing government arose from the upcoming elections.

“Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are,” the site quoted unnamed sources as saying.

The new-old politician is a solid member of the so-called “peace camp,” believing that no matter what the Palestinians say or do, the government should be negotiating with them.

When Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said recently in Berlin that Israel had committed “50 holocausts” against his people, Galon told Walla News that although his statement was “disgraceful and despicable…in the end it’s in Israel’s interest” to negotiate with him.

Gal-On, who stepped down as Meretz leader four years ago, made her comeback after many in her party had called for her return; polls showed the party teetering on the verge of not crossing the electoral threshold. Surveys concluded that with her at the helm, Meretz could even receive six seats instead of the minimum of four.

She soundly beat Deputy Economy Minister Yair Golan 60% to 40% in the leadership race, with the Meretz base favoring her over Golan, who has only been in the party for two years.

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Golan had talked of broadening support for the party by appealing to more centrist leftists who had voted in the past for Yesh Atid or Blue and White, which has now changed its name to the National Unity party.

Both are in favor of uniting with the Labor party ahead of the November elections in order to build “a large and united Israeli-Zionist left-wing camp,” as Golan put it. Labor leader Meirav Michaeli has so far rejected the idea.

Gal-On has called in the past for a repeal of the Law of Return, which allows Jewish immigrants to automatically receive Israeli citizenship, deeming it a “discriminatory” law. She is also the co-founder of extreme leftist B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, which bashes Israel in international forums on a regular basis.

In 2020, she founded a new equality and human rights organization called Zulat, whose mission statement excoriates the right-wing for its “rotten rule” of the country that has “worked for years to forget Judaism’s long tradition of humanism and love of people.”