Sarid blasts government corruption

Ex-Meretz leader calls the Knesset 'the worst since the state was established'.

yossi sarid 298.88 AJ (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
yossi sarid 298.88 AJ
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
MK Yossi Sarid (Meretz) announced at a press conference on Friday that he is to retire from politics. In the conference he blasted the current political system, calling it corrupt. Sarid called Prime Minister Ariel Sharon "the most corrupt person in Israeli politics." He added sarcasticly, "one of my greatest drawbacks is that I was never questioned in a police investigation, as that is the surest way nowadays to be a candidate for prime minister in Israel." Although the former Meretz leader called the Knesset "the worst [one] since the nation was established," he expressed the opinion that there are signs of new, talented people who were interested in joining the Knesset. Sarid said on Thursday he felt his chances of becoming a minister in the next government were slim, and that he did not wish to "break records" like former Labor Party head Shimon Peres. "I've been serving in the Knesset now for 32 years," Sarid told The Jerusalem Post. "I was young when I came into politics, but I have no plans on getting into the Guinness Book of Records or competing with those who insist on trying to break records," he said, referring to Peres. "I am flattered that at least I am not in the list of people who are moving from one side to another. I am leaving politics with the same shirt that I entered with," he said. Rumors of Sarid's retirement have abounded in recent months, especially after Labor MKs Avraham Shochat and Amram Mitzna announced their resignations several weeks ago. The move also comes less than 24 hours after Peres announced that he would be leaving the Labor Party and the Knesset to seek a ministerial position in Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's new Kadima party. Sarid's political career spanned more than 32 years, during which he served as environment minister in the Rabin and Peres governments and as education minister under Ehud Barak. "My most important work was in the Education Ministry," Sarid said. "When the mayors of development towns came to me and urged me not to leave my post as education minister I cried, because I realized that I had truly reached them. That was my most fulfilling moment." In 1999, he led Meretz to its biggest victory to date, winning 10 mandates in the Knesset. Sarid stepped down as the head of Meretz after the party's poor showing in the 2003 elections, but continued to represent the party in the Knesset. MK Yossi Beilin, who replaced Sarid as head of Meretz, had a notoriously rocky relationship with him. Meretz party officials said Sarid's retirement was cemented after Beilin was reelected as party leader this month. Sarid also said that Meretz was undergoing a crisis and he hoped it would not lose more seats in the upcoming election. "Right now I still don't see anyone better than our movement," said Sarid. He added that he hoped to continue with his teaching job in Sderot and pursue various writing endeavors. Meanwhile, MK Haim Oron announced on Thursday he is to stay in politics and run for a seat with Meretz. "After mulling it over and in light of the chances Meretz and the peace camp have for bringing about a breakthrough in the peace process and a general social upheaval, I have decided to continue my political and parliamentary activities," Oron said.