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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
"Just as there is no terror without terrorists, there is no corruption without corrupt people," said former deputy chief of General Staff Uzi Dayan during a Tel Aviv press conference Sunday at which he formally unveiled his new independent party Tafnit (turning point).
Referring to Ariel Sharon as the "father of the corrupt," Dayan emphasized that Tafnit had "a new agenda for Israel" in which vice and sleaze would be replaced with transparency and morality. "On the eve of Hanukka we are attempting to eliminate the darkness," he said.
A Sharon spokesman said in response that only a few days ago, Dayan asked to join Sharon's party and that he must be angry that Kadima had rejected him.
Dayan's anti-corruption proposals such as imposing a minimum five-year prison sentence for corrupt candidates as well as a fundamental change in the current voting system will, he hopes, encourage the emergence of a generation of "fresh, talented and ethical leaders.
"Tafnit, founded in May, is seeking a mandate of 10 seats in the upcoming 2006 elections, with clear goals as to what it wants to accomplish in the next three to four years. Dayan believes that to achieve permanent national security, a well-defined separation must be made between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
This would be realized through further territorial compromises in the West Bank, leading to the evacuation of 21,000 settlers and the redefining of borders along a temporary disengagement line, determined "on the basis of demographic and security considerations," Dayan said. He accepts that this is a painful decision, but assured voters that in championing the completion of the security fence and through the implementation of other hard-line defense policies, he would not be making any compromises in the fight against terror.
Dayan then affirmed that Tafnit's socioeconomic agenda would focus on three main areas of concern: education, unemployment and the development of periphery areas such as the Negev and the Galilee.
Rabbi Yehuda Gilad, former MK and head of the Religious Kibbutz Movement in Ma'aleh Gilboa, endorsed the emphasis on education, noting that it would lead to "a more Jewish and democratic state with a strong foundation of sensitive and knowledgeable people."
When asked by The Jerusalem Post whether he had ambitions to become prime minister, he said his dream was to be education minister, because "I know what needs to be done in order to improve the system."
Other members on the panel of eight sitting alongside Dayan included Tafnit members Leonid Braverstein, representing Russian immigrants, and Adi Bashardiski, who was pleased that Dayan was advocating a more active role for women in politics by raising female candidacy levels to 30 percent.
When asked who would feature on Tafnit's party list, however, Dayan replied that this would be decided in a council meeting in February.
To pass the electoral threshold and enter the Knesset, Tafnit would have to receive nearly 80,000 votes in the March 28 election. Tafnit officials acknowledged that it would be difficult but said that they expect support for the party to increase rapidly.
"There are many centrists in Israel who don't have a party to vote for because they cannot vote for a party like Kadima that has Sharon, Ehud Olmert, Roni Bar-On and so many people that the attorney-general's office is familiar with," said Dr. Marc Luria, a Cleveland native, who has worked with Dayan for four years in the organization Security Fence For Israel.
"I think there is a good chance that we will pass the threshold because Tafnit provides a good alternative for people who want a centrist party but can't vote for one of the existing parties. Uzi Dayan was offered positions in other parties but he chose not to take them because he couldn't advance what was truly important to them without a new party."
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.
|Former Deputy Chief of General Staff Uzi Dayan holds a B.Sc. in mathematics and physics from Hebrew University and an M.Sc. in operations research from Stanford University. Here are some highlights of his life:
Born in 1948, the nephew of Moshe Dayan, he grew up in Moshav Hayogev in the Jezreel Valley.
1966: Began IDF service.
1978: Was transferred to the Armored Corps and served as a battalion commander.
1982: Fought with an armored brigade during the war in Lebanon.
1983: Served as an armored brigade commander in both a reserve and a regular division. He also served as the commander of the Battalion Commander's Course.
1993: Was appointed head of the Planning Branch of the General Staff; as such, he headed the Israeli security committee for peace negotiations with the Jordanians, Palestinians and Syrians. He also served as Senior Liaison Officer to the Jordanian Forces.
1996: Was appointed head of Central Command
1998-2000: Served as Deputy Chief of General Staff.
2000-2002: Served as Chairman of the National Security Council and National Security Adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
2002-2004: Served as Chairman of the Forum for National Responsibility and president of the Zionist Council in Israel.