Former prime minister Ehud Barak announces his political comeback on June 26, 2019.
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)
Former prime minister Ehud Barak made a political comeback at age 77 on Wednesday, forming a new party whose goal is to defeat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud.
Barak vowed that his as yet unnamed party would be the basis for more political bonds. He said he decided to reveal the party before it had a name or a logo, because he felt the urgency to attack Netanyahu’s effort to cancel the September 17 election.
“I know Netanyahu, and he has come to the end of his path,” Barak said t a news conference in Tel Aviv. “As your former commander, I have to tell you, it is forbidden for you to remain in power. This is your last chance to leave under your own initiative.”
Barak reached out to the leaders of Blue and White, calling them his former soldiers. But he criticized them for seeking a national unity government with the Likud and for their campaign strategy.
“What matters most is the size of the political bloc, not the size of a party,” Barak said. “Blue and White did not have fire in its stomach, they did not have the drive to fight.”
Barak sponsored a poll that found that his party could win 11 seats. But a Channel 13 poll broadcast on Wednesday night predicted six.
The poll found that Barak grew support for the Center-Left camp to 61 seats, leaving the Center-Right with 59, including seven for Yisrael Beytenu, whose party leader, Avigdor Liberman, says he would not join a Netanyahu-led government that does not include Blue and White. Both the Likud and Blue and White won 32 seats in the poll.
Barak was joined at the news conference by former IDF chief of staff Yair Golan, socioeconomic activist Yifat Bitton and peace activist Kobi Richter. KAN reported that Haredi Women’s College founder Adina Bar-Shalom is also en route to the party.
Labor Party leadership candidates Itzik Shmuli, Amir Peretz and Stav Shaffir welcomed Barak’s political comeback, and Shmuli said he wants Labor to create a political bond with his new party.
Channel 12 reported that Peretz had pleaded with Barak to join Labor instead of forming a new party, and promised him that a poll would decide who would head their list. The channel also reported that former minister Tzipi Livni turned down the second slot on Barak’s list, because she said she believes starting the new party will harm the Center-Left bloc.
The Likud responded to the formation of the new party by saying that it would not interfere in how the Left divides up its votes among Barak, Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz.
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