Noam Schalit defended his decision to run for Knesset with Labor, in a Tuesday
morning press conference with party leader Shelly Yacimovich at Labor’s Kfar
Since the party announced his intention to run on
Monday, Schalit has faced criticism from MKs on the Right and Left, as well as
organizations representing victims of terror and war, who have accused him of
taking advantage of his son Gilad’s kidnapping to build a political career. Even
key activists in the effort to bring Gilad home have called his father’s move
cynical, inappropriate and premature.
'Terrorists must understand kidnapping don't pay'
Schalit said he was not surprised
by the attacks and that he had fully considered the ramifications of his
decision before accepting Yacimovich’s invitation to run.
“The voters can
decide whether or not what I’m doing is right,” he said. “I understand the
criticism, which was expected and is legitimate. The timing of my decision is a
result of the current political situation, which created a window of opportunity
to run that may not have existed in a year or two.”
charges that Likud MK Ayoub Kara had leveled in The Jerusalem Post that his
decision to run in an opposition party was a “slap in the face to Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu” after the heavy price Netanyahu had paid to bring Gilad
“I am thankful to Netanyahu for bringing Gilad home, and I have
expressed that to him on several occasions,” he said. “My running does not take
away from the prime minister’s role in Gilad’s return. My views are different
from those of the Likud.”
He described his views as social-democratic, in
favor of a free economy that helps the weakest sectors, the rule of law, and
protecting the courts. On the diplomatic issue, he said he supported two states
for two peoples based on a historic compromise. He also said he wanted to
improve the Knesset’s image in the eyes of Israelis.
He said his entrance
into politics had nothing to do with former journalist Yair Lapid beginning his
political career on Sunday. Schalit said his move had been planned before
Lapid’s announcement and was the result of months of contemplation.
was a natural process after leading a large struggle that shifted from personal
to public,” he said. “For more than five years, I saw the values of Israeli
society, what things are run well in our country and what needs to be
He revealed that his wife Aviva had initially opposed his
decision to run, but later accepted it. He promised not to involve Gilad or his
other children in his race.
Asked about his son’s health, he said: “He is
recovering. He will soon go to an IDF medical committee, get released
from the army, and then decide his future. He got delayed for five years, and
now he is looking forward to his future.”
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