Left-wing Israeli parties unite to counter Netanyahu

Left-wing Israeli parties unite to counter Netanyahu

Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak. Reuters photo

Left-wing Meretz and the new party of former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak said on Thursday they had formed an alliance to boost the bloc ahead of September's general election.

While such a union did not constitute a real threat to incumbent premier Benjamin Netanyahu's rule, it could be the catalyst for further mergers among the smaller parties fractioning both the left-wing and right-wing vote.

Meretz barely passed the threshold in snap polls held in April, which saw Netanyahu and his right-wing and religious allies win a majority.

And opinion surveys have predicted Barak's party formed in late June would not make it into parliament come September.

"The initiators of the union believe that forming the Democratic Camp is the first and crucial step in the mission of bringing Israel back on track," a statement from the alliance said.

The union was facilitated by Stav Shaffir of Labour, who will receive the second place on the list, and comes after Labour head Amir Peretz rejected the notion of joining forces with Meretz.

It will be led by newly elected Meretz head Nitzan Horowitz, with Barak taking the tenth place on the list.

Netanyahu over the weekend surpassed founding father David Ben-Gurion as Israel's longest-serving prime minister, first at the helm between 1996-1999 and then again since 2009.

His latest apparent victory in the April polls turned sour after he failed to form a coalition government and opted to move towards new elections instead.

He faces the new general election on September 17 while under threat of possible indictment for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in the months ahead.

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