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Barak launches election campaign
By LAHAV HARKOV
05/02/2012
Defense minister confident Independence party will pass election threshold; colleagues: Vote for us so he can remain in post.
 
Defense Minister Ehud Barak launched his Independence party’s election campaign on Wednesday, hours before coalition sources confirmed the Knesset would be dissolved next week.

Barak insisted that his party will run on its own in the upcoming election, denying rumors he would be given a spot on the Likud candidates list for the Knesset.

“We are running independently,” the defense minister said. “Come with us, we put the state first in all issues: Security, social matters, economics.

We act; we don’t just talk in matters of human dignity, solidarity and protecting the rule of law.”

Barak added that elections are not like reality television; they determine the future of Israel and should be taken seriously.

Addressing his party’s generally poor showing in polls to date, the defense minister noted that a Channel 10 poll showed a 5-percent jump in his party’s election standings, a trend he believes will continue.

However, a poll by the Dahaf Institute showed on Wednesday that Independence will not pass the 2% elections threshold, as did a Jerusalem Post/Smith research poll last week.

Those predicting Independence’s failure should “look at Kadima two months ago and today,” Barak said.

“Things change; there is no connection between polls and reality.”

Asked by a reporter why the public doesn’t trust him – Barak replied, “I have been in public life for about 15 years. People who were around me then aren’t here anymore. [Former minister] Haim Ramon isn’t here, [former prime minister] Ehud Olmert isn’t here, [former Kadima leader] Tzipi Livni just left. It’s hard to be lonely, but I’m okay.”

Barak said he is sure he will have a place of influence in the next government, and he and Independence’s MKs and ministers will be able to contribute their experience to keeping the government responsible and moderate.

Independence ministers and MKs said that anyone who wants to see Barak continue as defense minister should vote for his party.

“We all see the alternatives,” Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Shalom Simhon said. “Do we want [Foreign Minister Avigdor] Liberman or [Kadima leader Shaul] Mofaz as defense minister, or do we want to see Barak being responsible?” “I have a steady hand on the wheel.

I can land the plane in rough weather,” Barak said, noting that voters should focus on who is experienced when casting their ballots.

Barak said he’s speaking from experience, “without a teleprompter,” a dig at aspiring politician Yair Lapid. The Yesh Atid founder used the device at a press conference Tuesday night, though teleprompters are rarely seen in the Israeli political scene.

Independence was formed was formed in early 2011 when Barak and four other MKs seceded from the Labor party.

Yonah Bob contributed to this report.
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