Meretz, a left-wing social democratic party, was established in 1992 after three left-wing parties – Mapam, Ratz and Shinui joined forces.
Headed by Shulamit Aloni, the part won 12 Knesset seats in the 1992 elections, and joined former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's coalition. The party played a significant role in Rabin's government, backing his peace policies. At the same time, the party disappointed many by compromising on questions of religion and human rights in order to accommodate coalition partner Shas.
In 1996, Yossi Sarid took over the party's leadership. The party won nine seats in the subsequent elections.
In 1999, Shinui broke away from Meretz, reestablishing itself as an independent party. Meretz won 10 seats in the 1999 general elections, joining Ehud Barak's coalition, but quitting a year later over disagreements with Shas; the following elections, in 2003, saw Meretz win just six seats in the Knesset.
The obvious decline in the party's public status prompted Sarid to step down. Yossi Beilin then quit the Labor party and joined Meretz with his Yachad movement. The party was renamed Meretz-Yachad – Beilin was elected as the party's leader in 2004.
- The State of Israel is the Jewish people's state and a country of all its citizens. The party aims to continuously boost human rights in accordance with international norms and protect those still discriminated against within Israeli society.
- The party will work towards ending the occupation and evacuating settlement and military forces from the West Bank. No comprehensive peace will be possible without accords with Syria and Lebanon.
- The party emphasizes that equality is the basis for the belief in peace, social justice and human rights. The welfare State is a tool for the implementation of social justice, by promoting workers, guaranteeing social services of significant magnitude, and maintaining an obligation for financial aid to those part of the workforce.
- The party will work for the freedom of religion and freedom from religion; instating civil marriage and reinforcement of the High Court of Justice's position within society and the drafting of an Israeli constitution.
- Implementing affirmative action to improve the status of women; and pushing for the implementation of equal rights between Jews and Arabs through affirmative action.