Published 2nd January, 2013
Meretz or ‘Energy’ was founded in 1992 as an alliance of three parties, the Civil Rights and Peace Movement (Ratz), United Workers’ Party (Mapam), and Shinui (Change). It describes itself as a centre-left party which believes in Labour Zionism, Social Democracy and Green Politics. The party also believes in peace with the Palestinians and religious freedom.
In its first electoral test Meretz also achieved its best result to date; in the 1992 general election the party won 12 seats in the 120 seat Knesset, making it the third largest party. Meretz joined the Israel Labour Party coalition of Yitzhak Rabin and was instrumental in supporting the Oslo Accords.
In the 1996 general election Meretz dropped to nine seats and at the same time the alliance merged into a single party. The 199?? general election saw the party pick up one extra seat and become part of Ehud Barak’s coalition government, but they left the government when Ariel Sharon became prime minister in 2001.
In 2003 Meretz joined forces with Democratic Choice, but it resulted in no gains and altogether the party dropped to six seats in the 120 seat Knesset. In the same year Meretz merged with the Shahar movement as a means of rebuilding the Israeli Zionist peace camp movement. Briefly the party was known as Meretz-Yachad, but by the 2006 general election it was back to its old name of Meretz; even so they dropped to five seats in the Knesset.
Meretz tried another merger in 2008, this time with Hatnua HaHadasha (“The New Movement”). The alliance was a failure and they dropped to just three seats in the 120 seat Knesset at the 2009 general election.
Meretz is a member of Socialist International and an observer member of the Party of European Socialists.