Ehud Barak 298.88 ap.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Former prime minister Ehud Barak would pay a heavy price if he wins the May 28 Labor leadership race and replaces Amir Peretz as party chairman and defense minister.
Barak would have to end his business interests and speaking tours that have made him a wealthy man since he left the Prime Minister's Office in February 2001.
Barak's former bureau chief Eldad Yaniv said Barak would travel abroad once or twice ahead of the primary to sever his business ties.
A featured speaker represented by the Harry Walker Agency in New York, Barak recently received an honorarium of $50,000 plus travel expenses for addressing an American Jewish organization. He is also a partner in SCP, a venture capital firm based outside Philadelphia with over $800 million under management that is focused on investments in information and communications technology, life sciences, services, and defense and security.
Barak was criticized in his previous political comeback in 2005 for neglecting the campaign in favor of frequent business trips abroad.
But Yaniv said that this time Barak was breaking off his business ties and returning to politics full-time. "He will probably go abroad once or twice to close his business dealings, but that's it," Yaniv said. "He is running with full force."
Barak will hit the campaign trail for the first time on Sunday when he addresses a United Kibbutz Movement event at Kibbutz Afikim in the Jordan Valley. He will then give up to four speeches daily in an effort to reach as many Labor members as possible.
"He will say that he learned from his first term, so people will know that just like Rabin and Sharon, his second term will be better," Yaniv said. "He will go from Labor member to Labor member and ask for another chance."
"In Israel, you can't be prime minister at Tony Blair's age," Yaniv said. "It's hard to be CEO of the country when you are young."
A Teleseker poll published in Ma'ariv on Wednesday found that Barak had overtaken MK Ami Ayalon for the lead in the race, but according to polls broadcast on Thursday Ayalon was still in front.
A Ma'agar Mohot poll sponsored by Israel Radio found that 31 percent of Labor members intend to vote for Ayalon, followed by Barak (27%), MK Ophir Paz-Pines (18%), Peretz (10%) and MK Danny Yatom (2%). In a run-off, Ayalon would beat Barak 50-37%.
A Gal Hadash poll of Labor members sponsored by Channel 10 found that Ayalon would beat Barak head to head 46.5-38.8%. In the first round, Barak would win 26.5%, followed by Ayalon (25.5%), Paz-Pines (16%), Peretz (11.5%) and Yatom (2%).
A Dialogue poll broadcast on Channel 2 found that support for Kadima has continued to fall, while the Likud's numbers continue to rise. According to the poll, if the election were held now, Likud would win 29 seats and Kadima 12, reversing their current numbers. Labor would fall to 18 seats according to the poll.