Independence Party seeks to put haredim to work

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
May 12, 2011 03:57

Barak to unveil faction's platform; calls for strengthening Israel militarily and expresses support for diplomatic agreement with the Palestinians.

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Defense Minister Ehud Barak

Barak stink-eye 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Defense Minister Ehud Barak will unveil the platform and bylaws for his new Independence Party with great fanfare at the inaugural meeting of the party’s council in Tel Aviv on Thursday night.

As expected, the platform calls for strengthening Israel militarily and expresses support for a lasting peace with the Arab and Muslim world via a diplomatic agreement with the Palestinians, based on Barak’s offer to the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat at Camp David in 2000.

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Surprisingly, the manifesto, written by the head of the Independence faction – MK Einat Wilf – also contains elements that could be seen as anti-haredi.

“The party will work to strengthen Israel economically by advancing initiatives that would increase the participation of Arab and haredi citizens in the work force, based on the principle that in a stable society there must be equal rights and duties,” says the platform, which was obtained by The Jerusalem Post Wednesday night.

The party also calls for encouraging pluralism in Jewish culture and strengthening Israel’s connection with the Diaspora.

In another central focus of the party program, Independence recommends raising teacher salaries and expanding free education for young children.

The five MKs in the Independence faction will function as the party’s governing secretariat, but Barak, who will be officially voted party chairman Thursday night, will maintain many decision-making privileges for himself.

“The party definitely won’t be a dictatorship, but we won’t let people get in the way of the party with things that are irrelevant,” said party director-general Oshi Elmaliah. “We won’t be any more dictatorial than Kadima is or Labor as it was when we were there.”

Meanwhile, in the race to succeed Barak as Labor Party chairman, MK Shelly Yacimovich held a question-and-answer session with Labor members in Jerusalem’s Katamon neighborhood Wednesday night.

Former Labor chairman Amram Mitzna will hold his first major rally Thursday night since declaring his candidacy.

The rally will be held on Mitzna’s home turf of Haifa, where he was mayor for a decade.


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