Noam Schalit announces run for Labor Party list

Yacimovich welcomes Gilad Schalit's father; Likud MK: Distasteful slap in the face.

January 9, 2012 21:15
2 minute read.
Noam Schalit

Noam Schalit 311 R. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich followed up on journalist Yair Lapid's announcement that he was forming a new party by revealing on Monday that Labor would have a celebrity of its own on its Knesset slate: Noam Schalit.

Schalit, an engineer for the Iscar company owned by US billionaire Warren Buffett, gained fame for waging a fiveyear struggle to bring home his soldier son, Gilad. Now he hopes his fame can help him build a political career.

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“After years of public struggle, in which I was privileged to get to to know the moral and beautiful sides of Israeli society, I have decided to join the public service,” Schalit said in a statement released by Labor.

Explaining his motives for the career change, he said, “This is out of desire to serve the public, and to be in a place from which I can influence Israeli society’s image. The Labor Party is a social democratic party, and a proponent of peace. Therefore, it is my natural home.”

Yacimovich welcomed the announcement, saying the restraint Schalit showed in his effort to bring his son home impressed her.

“The struggle of Schalit and his family for Gilad’s release began as a private struggle, but evolved into a struggle that encapsulates the core values of Israel society – solidarity, mutual support and Zionism,” Yacimovich said.

Schalit will hold a press conference with Yacimovich at labor’s Kfar Saba headquarters on Tuesday. He will not have to apply to join the party because he has been a registered member since 1996.

Yacimovich denied the announcement was tied to Lapid’s decision to enter politics.

She said Schalit gave her his final answer on Saturday night and they planned to announce the move on Monday.

“I considered not doing it because of [Lapid], but we decided to stick to the original plan,” she told Channel 2.

“[Schalit’s joining] wasn’t intended to be a contra to anyone.”

But MKs on the Right accused Yacimovich of cynically bringing Schalit into politics in order to attract attention.

“I think the trend of bringing celebrities into politics just because they are celebrities is disgusting,” National Union MK Arye Eldad said.

“[Schalit] won’t strengthen or weaken Labor. He has saved his son, but there are other people who have accomplished other things. It doesn’t indicate any political skill.”

Deputy Negev and Galilee Development Minister Ayoub Kara (Likud) went further. He said Schalit did not hide his politics during the campaign to bring about his son’s release from Gaza, and he was now breaking the consensus around bringing Gilad home.

“He should have been more careful,” Kara said. “This government did everything possible and paid such a heavy price to bring Gilad home and in return got a slap in the face from his father. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth.”

Defense Minister Ehud Barak welcomed Schalit’s decision to run in the party he headed until a year ago.

“Any force that enters politics is welcomed,” Barak said.

“Israeli society is full of creative powers.”

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