Independence to draft party identity

Meeting comes day after the five Independence MKs – four of whom are ministers – flip-flopped on handling of controversial boycott bill.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
July 13, 2011 01:28
2 minute read.
EHUD BARAK announces formation of new party

Independence faction 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

 
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When Defense Minister Ehud Barak and four political allies broke off from Labor to form the Independence faction on January 17, they insisted the move was for ideological reasons.

Six months later, the party will start building its ideological identity when its governing council convenes for its first working meeting on Wednesday at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds.

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The meeting comes a day after the five Independence MKs – four of whom are ministers – flip-flopped over how to handle the controversial boycott bill.

At first the ministers wanted to back the bill, but party Chairwoman Einat Wilf and legal adviser Ari Hillel persuaded them that the legislation went too far in enabling lawsuits against individuals who instigate boycotts.

“I feel there is quickly becoming less and less space for sane, centrist Zionism between right-wing extremism and leftist post-Zionism,” Wilf said when explaining to the Knesset her faction’s decision not to participate in the vote.

“The Independence faction will continue to struggle for that space, defend it, and try to widen it via the more moderate forces in and out of the coalition. This is an integral struggle for the future of sane, centrist Zionism that Herzl and Ben-Gurion preached,” she continued.



Wilf authored a one-page platform for the party’s inaugural council meeting. Task forces of council members will be appointed Wednesday to flesh out the platform on diplomatic, security, socioeconomic, educational and environmental issues.

The council will have some 80 members, including professors, mayors, and former Labor members who fled to the Independence Party following reports about alleged corruption in Labor’s membership drive.

In an effort to learn from Labor’s mistakes, and not follow it into debt, the Independence Party will exist mostly online.

It will not invest in branches across the country, but it will rent halls for party events and conduct its affairs via Facebook and its website, which is still under construction.

The first sign that this will be a different party will be when council members walk in Wednesday night and are told to sign in on iPads.

“We intend to maximize new media in building up the party,” Independence Director-General Oshi Almaliah said. “We hope to build something technological and new.”

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