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Meretz

MERETZ

MERETZ , Israeli parliamentary group and political party. Meretz first emerged as a ten-member parliamentary group on March 9, 1992, through the merger of the Citizens Rights Movement, *Mapam, and *Shinui. The three parties were united on the issues of peace, religion and state, and human rights issues, but differed on social and economic issues, with Mapam and the crm following a socialist line, and Shinui a liberal one.

Meretz ran in the elections to the Thirteenth Knesset, under the leadership of Shulamit *Aloni, receiving 12 seats, and emerged as the third largest party in the Knesset. It joined the government formed by Yitzhak *Rabin, and received three ministerial posts, increased to four after Shas left the government on the eve of the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993. As long as Shas remained in the government, there was constant pressure on its part that Aloni be removed from the Ministry of Education and Culture, to which she had been appointed minister, owing to what Shas considered lack of sensitivity to the religious sector. As a result Aloni was replaced in the ministry by Amnon *Rubinstein, and received a portfolio that combined Communications, Science, and the Arts. As a staunch supporter of an agreement between Israel and the plo, Meretz supported the Oslo Accords, but was only marginally involved in their formulation. In addition to attending to the portfolios that were in its hands, Meretz continued throughout the Thirteenth Knesset to be active in the field of civil and human rights, within Israel proper and in the territories, and even before Rabin's assassination warned against the growing strength of the religious extreme right-wing movements. Following Rabin's assassination, Meretz blocked an attempt by Prime Minister Shimon *Peres to bring the nrp into the coalition and thus give it an effective veto on any future peace moves. Meretz joined Haim *Ramon when he established the list Ḥayyim Ḥadashim ba-Histadrut, in the Histadrut elections, and some of its members played an active role in the reorganization of the Histadrut after those elections. In the elections to the Fourteenth Knesset in 1996, Meretz, led byYossi *Sarid, received nine seats, and remained in the opposition. In February 1997 it registered as a party, and its three bodies ceased to exist as separate parties. In the elections to the Fifteenth Knesset Meretz received ten seats, and entered the government formed by Ehud *Barak, receiving three portfolios, but it left the government in June 2000, because Sarid was displeased by Barak's efforts to pacify Shas, and went into opposition. In the elections to the Sixteenth Knesset Meretz received only six seats, despite the fact that Yossi *Beilin and Yael *Dayan, who had failed to enter the *Israel Labor Party list for the elections to the Sixteenth Knesset in a realistic place, joined the Meretz list. This failure led to Sarid's resigning the party leadership. In the elections for the party's leadership held in February 2004, Yossi *Beilin beat mk Ran Cohen, and the party changed its name to "Yaḥad and the Democratic Choice." In the summer of 2005 "Meretz" was brought back into the party's name. In the 2006 elections it won five seats.

[Susan Hattis Rolef (2nd ed.)]

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