Journeyman general returns to the Likud

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
October 12, 2006 00:40
2 minute read.

Former OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Peled came to the Likud's Tel Aviv headquarters on Wednesday to fill out a membership form and return to the party he joined when he left the IDF in 1992. Since then, Peled has gone back and forth among several parties. He supported Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu in the 1996 race for prime minister but left the party shortly thereafter and became one of Netanyahu's fiercest critics. Peled wrote Netanyahu a letter in 1997 in which he said that he felt "betrayed" and accused him of "lacking any personal or public integrity." Peled added that "Netanyahu has no god but himself." The next stop on Peled's political journey was the Center Party, which he joined in 1998, saying that party founders Amnon Lipkin-Shahak and Dan Meridor were appropriate candidates to "get the country out of this chaos." Peled left shortly thereafter to One Israel, where he supported the prime ministerial candidacy of Ehud Barak and told a crowd of Labor supporters that he made a big mistake when he backed Netanyahu. The Likud leader responded by accusing Peled of "skipping from here to there, shopping in a supermarket." In January 2001, Peled endorsed the candidacy of former prime minister Ariel Sharon but six months later, he sat next to Binyamin Ben-Eliezer in a press conference in which he announced his candidacy for Labor leader. Asked about his many changes of opinion in his political career, Peled told reporters in a press conference at Likud headquarters that he had "matured." "Circumstances change, people change," Peled said later on Israel Radio. "I think that every one of us learns over the years and can change. If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't be here [at Likud headquarters]. Netanyahu today is a different person." Peled added that he "does not see much ideological difference among the Likud, Kadima and Labor nowadays." He said he had decided to enter politics because of the war in Lebanon and to run for Knesset with the Likud because "Netanyahu is the only one who has the leadership, skills and ability to run the country." Netanyahu praised Peled, calling him "an important, quality addition to the Likud." He said that Peled's joining the party was part of "building a new Likud that would have quality people from many fields, but would remain loyal to party principles." "There will be many more, you can be sure," Netanyahu told reporters in English. Former chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Moshe Ya'alon and former OC Ground Forces Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yiftah Ron-Tal have both been rumored to be future Likud Knesset candidates, but both have said they do not intend to enter politics. Netanyahu has also met with National Union MK Effi Eitam, a retired brigadier general, about joining the Likud. When asked if he could be considered a "runner-up" to Ya'alon, Peled replied emphatically, "I'm not a runner-up to anyone." Noga Martin contributed to this report.


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