Ya'alon announces intention to run for prime minister, form new party

The former defense minister emerges as another alternative replacement for PM Benjamin Netanyahu, announcing his intention to run for national leadership and change the political discourse.

Former defense minister Moshe Yaalon (photo credit: REUTERS)
Former defense minister Moshe Yaalon
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon declared on Saturday his intention to run for the post of prime minister.
Ya’alon announced at a cultural event in Tel Aviv that he feels the time has come for him to pursue a new goal in his decades-long military and public career.
This new stage has been in the plans for quite a while, Ya’alon explained. “As I said when I resigned – I will run for the national leadership. I know how hard it is in politics, but I care about this country. I am now forming a new party which will serve as a platform to run.”
While the future party Ya’alon plans to establish has yet to be named, activities to promote it are already under way. Ya’alon said that he is currently operating through an NGO he founded, fittingly named Alternative Leadership.
He explained that it is important for him to be in direct contact with Israel’s citizens, noting that “I have days that I go to three different homes to talk to potential voters.”
In an allusion to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s difficult relationship with the media, Ya’alon said, “I have learned that the mediation of the media can cause you damage, especially when you don’t control a TV channel or a newspaper.” He was referring to allegations that Netanyahu has been accused of controlling the daily newspaper Israel Hayom, which is owned by his longtime supporter, American billionaire Sheldon Adelson.
Ya’alon also addressed speculation regarding possible cooperation with Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, and did not rule out joining forces.
“I do not like the fracturing into small parties. I think we should unite our efforts,” he said. “I am building my political power now, and when needed I will be happy to see unity.”
Ya’alon then added that he is certain we will see more candidates joining the race before the next elections, as he plans to do.
The former minister also used the opportunity to disparage what he sees as attacks on Israel’s democracy, saying these are the country’s true threats: “Corruption, hateful speeches, contempt for the rule of law and the delegitimization of the media,” he said, “our threats are internal.”
Ya’alon blamed politicians for wanting to score points among their constituencies and using their power for incitement.
He ended by adding that the social divide between Jewish Israelis and Arab Israelis is often heavily impacted by the polarizing speech and agendas promoted by Israeli politicians.
“The Arabs want to integrate [in society], but they see a discourse full of hatred,” he said. “How many terrorists were actually Arab Israelis? They want to be part of us, but they see this public atmosphere that politicians have created.”
Meanwhile, Likud MK and former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) director Avi Dichter announced that he will run for his party’s leadership. “I am already getting ready for the next primary, even if it means running against Netanyahu,” Dichter stated on Saturday at a cultural event in Modi’in.
Dichter clarified that the next primary will take place only after the next elections.
“Netanyahu was already elected to lead the Likud in the next election, which will happen, I assume, in 2019.”
However, Dichter touched on the controversial subject of Netanyahu’s police investigations and claimed that the prime minister cannot function while police are looking into numerous corruption allegations allegedly involving the premier. “I was in the government when the prime minister [Olmert] was under investigation… anyone [who] tells you that they can fully function with no distractions or disruptions during such a period is not telling the truth.”