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Leader of Israel's left-wing Meretz party announces resignation from parliament

In this photo taken Feb. 24, 2015, Zehava Galon, the leader of Meretz party, arrives at a debate hosted by the Israel Women’s Network in Tel Aviv
AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov

Israeli politician Zehava Galon of the left-wing Meretz Party on Wednesday announced that she is resigning her seat in parliament but will remain chairperson of the party.

In a letter to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Galon said that she was resigning so that she could concentrate on leading the party and increasing its influence.

Galon has served for many years in the Israeli parliament's opposition, but never served as a member of the government, however she is still viewed as an influential figure in Israeli politics and society.

In a letter to party members, Gal-On wrote: "Meretz cannot exist as a closed club that ignores you - its voters and supporters - and blocks the possibility of additional forces taking part in our struggle to inject new blood on the left."

She continued, "I love the Knesset, but I love Meretz more, and I know that if Meretz does not develop, Meretz will not be. The left has a large and far larger audience than the number of people who voted for Meretz. In order to realize this potential, Meretz must change. I am convinced that my resignation from the Knesset will enable me, as chairman of Meretz, to focus on promoting 'open primaries' and turning Meretz into a big house and including all those who believe in our values."

Galon concluded her statement by noting what she had done during her time in politics.

"I am proud of the achievements I have had in the 16 years I have represented in the struggle for equality and justice. For women and the gay community, for the rights of Palestinians in Israel and the territories, against economic corruption and the centralization of the economy in order to close gaps in society, human rights and right-wing governments determined to eliminate democratic characteristics in Israel."

Meretz is due to hold elections for committee delegates on October 26. At the end of December, Galon is expected to present a proposal for the committee to change the electoral system for open primaries in the party, which will allow all Meretz supporters to decide who will be the chairperson of the party and who will run for the Knesset.

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