Former Mossad head Yatom forms Veterans Party

Wants to hold balance of power but won't join Netanyahu-led government

Danny Yatom, leader of the newly formed Veteran's Party. (photo credit: GIDON BALTZAN)
Danny Yatom, leader of the newly formed Veteran's Party.
(photo credit: GIDON BALTZAN)
Former Mossad chief and Labor MK Danny Yatom announced the formation of a new pensioners party called the Israeli Veterans Party on Wednesday.
At a press conference in Tel Aviv’s Beit Sokolow Journalist House, Yatom said he hopes to repeat the success of the Gil (Age) Pensioners Party established by the late Mossad legend Rafi Eitan that won seven seats in the 2006 election. In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Yatom said he believes he will succeed in crossing the 3.25% electoral threshold because the coronavirus has changed the priorities of his potential voters.
“We will pass the threshold because we are an authentic party,” Yatom said. “People will vote for us because the coronavirus caused health and economic crises that forced them to deal with their own survival.”
Yatom said 56% of Israelis have no pension, so they are forced to live on a NIS 2,000 elderly stipend that begins at 67 for men and 62 for women. His party wants to raise the stipend to the NIS 5,300 minimum wage. He warned that 20% of elderly Israelis live below the poverty level and at least 160 have died from the coronavirus, alone, to be discovered only days after their deaths.
“That is fitting only for a third world country,” he said.
The Veterans Party list will include right-wing and left-wing candidates, including ethics Prof. Asa Kasher, retired journalists Pe’er-li Shahar and Haim Zisovich, former WIZO world president Prof. Rivka Lazovsky, former Kadima MK Rachel Adato and economist Shlomo Maoz. Trenton, New Jersey-born basketball star Tal Brody, who once ran for Knesset with the Likud, turned down a place on the list.
Asked why an elderly Knesset candidate like 76-year-old Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai cannot be relied on to help seniors, the 75-year-old Yatom said Huldai wants to be prime minister, so he will not have time to deal with issues other than security and diplomacy. Yatom said helping the elderly may end up being 20th on Huldai’s platform, not first as on his.
“I formed the Israeli Veterans Party to deal with socioeconomic issues and not the security and diplomatic issues I dealt with over many years,” he said. “I see the rifts inside Israeli society. The greatest danger to Israel right now is from inside, not outside, so we must unite and focus on helping the senior citizens who contributed to the state, built and developed it, but now have a feeling they have been forgotten and no one is paying attention to them.”
Yatom said his party’s goal is to hold the balance of power between political blocs. But he ruled out joining a government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“You can’t abandon values,” Yatom said. “I would sit with any party, including the Likud led by someone else. But someone indicted cannot receive a mandate from the president to form a government.”