Sneh insists new party can fill void left by Labor

Former MK to 'Post': Israel must exploit lower oil prices to destabilize Iran; vows to battle crime.

sneh aj 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
sneh aj 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Former MK Ephraim Sneh says his Strong Israel Party can fill the "political void" brought on by changes in the Labor Party, which he left when he resigned his Knesset seat in May. "The Labor Party has lost its power to lead," Sneh, 64, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. "I believe that Israel needs a new Labor Party and we will be it." Strong Israel's 250 members come from a variety of professional backgrounds. Its list for the upcoming Knesset elections includes economist Omer Sela, former Shinui MK Erela Golan, education specialist Mahmoud Zahalka, former Labor MK and Ben-Gurion biographer Michael Bar-Zohar and physician Gal Ifargan. For 21 years, Labor was home to Sneh, a physician and former senior IDF officer who served in four top political posts - as health minister, transportation minister and twice as deputy defense minister. Now he wants to confront two major threats facing Israel: domestic crime and Iran. Regarding the latter, Sneh said that Israel's readiness to confront the Iranian threat was "less than satisfying. The home front is not prepared and our ability to react to long-range threats is unsatisfactory." He added that Israel's military supremacy faced erosion in light of global and regional changes, and with Arab states acquiring weapons from such suppliers as the US and Russia, the balance is gradually shifting. "We must change this situation," he said. Sneh also believes that the world must impose economic sanctions on Iran. "We have a rare window of opportunity to destabilize the Iranian government... due to the global decrease in oil prices," he said, "and I don't see anyone doing it. Even the new American president [Barack Obama] speaks about discussing the nuclear issue with Iran, and not about doing something to destabilize the Iranian government. "The Iranians are masters at buying time, and instead of wasting time on futile diplomacy, we must lead economic sanctions that will shake the Iranian government," he said. Regarding domestic crime, Sneh visited Hebron on Monday and said lawbreakers and criminals must be handled harshly, as their conduct undermined society. He cited settler activist Daniella Weiss, who called on Jewish youth in Hebron to resist security forces, as well as the country's crime families, whose internal conflicts have cost the lives of innocent civilians. "I know that half of the public complains it has no one to vote for, and this is where I step in [with] a new option," Sneh said. He added that a party led by him would never sit in a Likud-Shas-Yisrael Beitenu coalition, and stressed that Strong Israel was not a single-issue or niche party. "We have a social, political and security agenda, and a party like this cannot be temporary," Sneh said.