MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) on Thursday morning announced her decision to run for her party's leadership.
Primaries for Meretz are expected to be held on March 22, and Zandberg will be running head-to-head with the party's current chairwoman, Zehava Galon, as well as with MK Ilan Gilon and Avi Dabush.
"I decided to run in order to lift our party and the Israeli left from the low place we currently occupy. It's time to say things in the clearest way possible: Meretz needs a new start, new life, and a new leadership," Zandberg said.
"After long years during which the right turned the left into a punching bag, it's time we lifted our heads and started fighting again. It's time to bring excitement and joy back to our camp. It's time to lead Meretz to 10 Knesset seats, and it's time we played a role in leading this country and bringing it back on track.
"It is inconceivable that votes for the Labor party will decide Meretz's future. It is inconceivable that Labor leader Avi Gabbay will be the one who decides how many Knesset seats we win in the elections. Meretz represents all that is good about Israel's society, and everything this country has to be proud of.
"Meretz represents the majority of the public, who want supermarkets open on Shabbat (the Sabbath), who believe that the greatest threat to our existence is a bi-national apartheid state. Most of the country wants gender equality, most of the country wants cooperation, most of the country understands that what's most important is to 'live and let live.' We will bring this majority home to us. We will be the spark which will ignite our entire camp."
Galon congratulated Zandberg on her decision to run for party leadership and said, "I have led a process for the primaries which will allow more people to run for Meretz leadership. The left's success is important to all of us, and I am sure that just as I succeeded in opening our party up and bringing renewal to the left, I will lead Meretz to double its strength and reach a double-digit number of Knesset seats in the next elections."
"I am convinced that after I have been chosen to lead Meretz, we will all know how to work together, with devotion and commitment to advancing our shared values and helping Meretz grow."
Meretz removed the word "Zionism" from its platform in October, with Galon stating that, "Meretz is an Israeli party, and it has Jewish and Arab members.... The Jewish people are not the only ones who have a right to self-determination. The Palestinians have this right, too."
Also in October, Galon stepped down as MK in an effort to "open the party up" and to allow her to concentrate on advancing "open primaries." Last Thursday, Galon's efforts succeeded: Meretz will now allow anyone joining Meretz up until 30 days before its March 22 primaries to vote for its representatives.