For the opera singer, see Zehava Gal.

Zehava Gal-On (Hebrew: זֶהָבָה גַּלְאוֹן; born 4 January 1956) is an Israeli politician. She is a member of Knesset for Meretz, known for her very liberal and pluralist views.[1] On 7 February 2012, she was elected chairperson of Meretz.


Zehava Schnipitzky (later Gal-On) was born in 1956 in Vilnius in the Soviet Union (now in Lithuania). She immigrated at age four to Israel in 1960 with her father Aryeh (born 30 December 1925), a plumber for a subsidiary of Solel Boneh (a construction company), and her mother, Yaffa (19 February 1923 – 10 March 2012), a teacher. They lived in a ma'abara transit camp and eventually moved to a housing project in Petah Tikva.[2] She earned her M.A. degree at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


Gal-On is married to Pesach (born 5 December 1953) with two sons, Yiftah (born 4 March 1980) and Nadav (born 28 January 1982), and still lives in Petah Tikva.[3]

Political career

Gal-On served as general secretary of the paper Politika, of the Human Rights organization B'Tselem, and of the Ratz party. She is a member of the general directorate of Meretz. Among her main activities: the struggle for human and civil rights,[4] women's rights and the fight for social justice.[3] In regards to IDF refuseniks, she has said that "Meretz should not go with the wind of refusal, but should not try to oppose it. We are a party that believes in ideological pluralism and should not bury our heads in the sand. Meretz must show empathy towards the refuseniks and must bring the matter up for public discussion and reveal the reasons why the officers are refusing to serve."[5]

She was elected to the Knesset in 1999, and served as chairwoman of the Knesset committee for the struggle against trafficking in women.[6] She was a member of the Knesset law and constitution committee and the Knesset committee.[3] That same year, she also called for a repeal of the Law of Return, stating that "The Law of Return is discriminatory, it discriminates between Jews and non-Jews. I can accept that after the Holocaust, it was kind of a necessity. But maybe after 51 years, we are not in the same situation, and we don't need to run our country based on such undemocratic laws."[7]

In 2007, Gal-On launched an unsuccessful bid to become the leader of Meretz. She believes that the party has to reinvent itself and promote a civilian agenda, which encompasses human rights and civil liberties in order to remain politically viable. Gal-On said that Meretz could not afford to complacently observe the proliferation of its long-time positions among other parties, and it must work to cement the principles of democracy and equality in Israeli society. She lost to Haim Oron, as the polls predicted.[8]

Gal-On volunteered her third spot on the Meretz list for the 2009 elections as a gesture of respect for Nitzan Horowitz, but lost her seat when the party was reduced to three seats. She attributed the party's failure to its uncertain response to Israel's Operation Cast Lead, and said: "My opinion was different than that of most party members. Because Meretz is an ideological party, it must have a clear statement even in such a situation".[9] In March 2011 she returned to the Knesset after Haim Oron retired.[2]

On 7 February 2012 Gal-On was elected Meretz party chair with over 60% of the vote in the party's primary.[10] In the 2013 legislative elections Meretz doubled its number of seats from three to six.

In the next election, Gal-On had said during the campaign that she would resign if the party won only four seats and when preliminary results of the 2015 election indicated that the party would be reduced she announced she would resign as chairperson of Meretz as soon as a successor is chosen, and from the Knesset in order to open a place for Tamar Zandberg, the party's fifth place candidate who appeared to have lost her seat. Zandberg, Ilan Gilon and others urged Gal-On to reconsider her decision.[11] Once absentee and soldier ballots were counted, however, Meretz gained a fifth seat negating the premise for Gal-On's earlier announcement[12] and she announced that she would be continuing as party leader,[13] saying: "Meretz received a fifth seat from young supporters, from Israeli soldiers, who raised the party's rate of support. That allowed Meretz to maintain its strength in terms of the number of voters – some 170,000 – compared with the last election. Under the circumstances and against all odds, that is a success."[14]


  1. ^ Ehud Barak eyes center-left bloc ahead of the next elections Mazal Mualem, Haaretz; accessed 22 July 2014.
  2. ^ a b Meretz leader Zahava Gal-On is not looking to be loved,; accessed 22 July 2014.
  3. ^ a b c "מפלגת מרצ-יחד - Zehava Galon". Archived from the original on 13 November 2007. Retrieved 27 December 2007. 
  4. ^ Mason, Ruth. "Zahava Galon - Advocating Tirelessly for Women". JW Magazine (Fall 2004). Retrieved 27 December 2007. 
  5. ^ Verter, Yossi (2 April 2008). "Meretz denies ever backing `refuseniks'". Retrieved 11 September 2011. 
  6. ^ "Israel's Sex Trade Escalating". CBS News. 23 March 2005. Retrieved 27 December 2007. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ MK Zahava Gal-On launches Meretz leadership bid,; accessed 22 July 2014.
  9. ^ Senyor, Eli (11 February 2009). "Meretz shock: Gal-On not in Knesset". Ynetnews. Retrieved 21 February 2009. 
  10. ^ "מרצ - הבחירות לראשות מרצ יתקיימו ב-7 בפברואר". 23 March 2009. Retrieved 19 May 2012. 
  11. ^ "Meretz chief Gal-On to resign in wake of party's poor showing in election". Jerusalem Post. 18 March 2015. Retrieved 18 March 2015. 
  12. ^ "Meretz wins 5th seat in absentee ballots, Likud secures 30th seat". YNet. March 19, 2015. Retrieved March 19, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Gal-On decides not to quit as Meretz chief after party rises to 5 mandates in final count". Jerusalem Post. March 19, 2015. Retrieved March 19, 2015. 
  14. ^ "LIVE BLOG: Final vote tally gives Likud, Meretz extra Knesset seats". Ha'aretz. 19 March 2015. Retrieved 19 March 2015.