Meretz Party Elects New Head

Ad Feedback - JERUSALEM, Israel - The ultra-left-wing Meretz party elected Member of Knesset (MD) Chaim (Jumus) Oron to replace outgoing chairman Yossi Beilin.

With 54.5 percent of the vote, Oron beat opponents MKs Ran Cohen (27 percent) and Zahava Gal-On (18 percent).

"I have received the authority and responsibility to make Meretz more powerful and influential," Oron told party members after winning the election. "We stand before a difficult chapter in the life of the party," he said.

Meretz has dropped from 12 Knesset (parliament) seats in 1992 to five today.

Born in Ramat Gan near Tel Aviv, Oron moved to Kibbutz Lahav following his military service, where he served as secretary to HaShomer Hatzair (the Youth Guard), established in 1913 as a socialist Zionist youth movement, which today is the largest worldwide organization of its kind.

Elected to the Knesset in 1988, Oron helped found the Peace Now organization, along with Israeli Education Minister Yuli Tamir.

Peace Now advocates a full withdrawal to pre-1967 borders, the removal of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) checkpoints in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), and is often critical of the IDF's counter-terror operations.

"I want to answer those who say that Meretz is no longer a relevant party," Oron said. "When [the ultra-Orthodox] Shas [party] takes us years backward, who can deal with it?" Oren asked.

"When the defense minister, who claims to lead the peace camp, does not remove a single roadblock, only Meretz is committed to fighting for peace," he said.

Sources: YNet news, israel national news


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