Jerusalem24 – Meretz is a left-wing, social-democratic and green political party in Israel. The party was formed in 1992 by the merger of Ratz, Mapam and Shinui, and was at its peak between 1992 and 1996 when it had 12 seats. It currently has six seats in the Knesset.
Esmat Mansour, an expert on Israeli affairs, said that “Meretz is a historically left-winged party that believes in the two state solution.” He continued that, “they participated in this government, which seems more of a statement more than anything else.”
Meretz was formed prior to the 1992 Israeli legislative election by an alliance of three left-wing political parties, Ratz, Mapam and Shinui, and was initially led by Ratz’s chairwoman and long-time Knesset member Shulamit Aloni. The name “Meretz” was chosen as an acronym for Mapam and Ratz. The third party of the alliance wasn’t reflected in its name, but was instead mentioned in the party’s campaign slogan: “A government with vigor [Meretz], the strength to make the change [Shinui]”. Its first electoral test was a success, with the party winning twelve seats, making it the third-largest in the Knesset. Meretz became the major coalition partner of Yitzhak Rabin’s Labor Party, helping pave the way for the Oslo Accords.
In the early 1990s, Meretz helped to reach out to the Palestinians for the formation of the peace process, leading to the Oslo Accords. Today in 2021, two members of Knesset will be meeting with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. According to the Israeli Daily newspaper, Ha’aretz, Israeli Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz and Regional Cooperation and Development Minister Issawi Freij will be visiting Ramallah.
Regarding the visit by Horowitz and Freij, Mansour says, “Their effect and influence is very small.” commenting further on the meeting he says, “The meeting has more to do with the work of their respective ministries, there will be no real political discussion in the meeting.” In that regards, he added that “they will most likely be talking about possible work between the Israelis and Palestinians regarding health and development.” Which falls in line with Abbas’s meeting with Israeli Defense Minister, Benny Gantz, last month; where Abbas discussed a series of issues aimed at easing the Palestinian Authorities’ economic distress and search for ways to uplift the standards of living of Palestinians.
The Meretz party has been absent in Israeli political life for several years. Mansour says that, “they have not participated in any governments since the days of Barak, they haven’t been a part of any government for around 21 years.” Mansour also added that “they maybe trying to regain the political influence they had in the 1990s.”