Achi Israeli party leaders Adina Bar-Shalom and Gideon Sheffer at a recent party event in Beit Shemesh. .
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Achi Yisraeli Party of Haredi Women's College founder Adina Bar-Shalom became the first of the 47 parties that registered to run in the April 9 election to quit the race late on Tuesday.
Many more parties are expected to quit ahead of the race. The decision not to run was released at 10:30 p.m., in an effort to avoid media coverage about the party’s failure.
“In light of the political reality that has become apparent in recent days and out of responsibility to the voters, the party’s council decided not to run in the election,” an Achi Yisraeli spokesman said in the press release. “Achi Yisraeli will continue to promote its values, especially respectful, unifying discourse on the disagreements in Israeli society.”
However, more went into the decision than meets the eye. Sources told The Jerusalem Post
that the party ran out of money and did not even have a budget to produce proper ads for the seven minutes of television time and 14 minutes of radio ads that parties with no incumbent MKs receive.
Bar-Shalom is eldest child of the late Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, and promotes a moderate, inclusive message about her father’s legacy that is at odds with that of Shas leader Arye Deri. Her party’s platform permitted public transportation on Shabbat and respect for the LGBT community.
Parties other than Shas have sought Bar-Shalom as a candidate for more than a decade. In the current election, Bar-Shalom received offers to join parties across the political spectrum, but she declined them, because none offered realistic slots for the other leading figures in Achi Yisraeli.
Bar-Shalom co-founded the party with former Yeroham mayor Michael Biton. But a day before the election was initiated, he left fand joined the party formed by former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz, which later became the Israel Resilience Party and then Blue and White.
Gantz had wanted Bar-Shalom to come on board at the time, and she would have been the party’s top female candidate. But sources said that former IDF spokeswoman Ruth Yaron insisted on running independently and persuaded Bar-Shalom not to accept the offers.
Former IDF OC Human Resources Gideon Sheffer was officially head of Achi Yisraeli while Bar-Shalom was its top candidate. But Blue and White already had too many security figures, making Sheffer more of a burden than an asset.
There is another party called Achi that is running in the election, together with the Likud. Current deputy defense minister Eli Ben-Dahan is 28th on the Likud list as a representative of Achi, which was founded by former National Religious Party leader Effi Eitam.
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