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Ehud Barak.(Photo by: RONEN ZVULUN/ REURERS)
Barak not running for Labor leader
“I had more than one offer to lead Labor, but I reached the conclusion that it would not be right to run.”
Former prime minister Ehud Barak announced on Friday night that he would not join the July 2 race for Labor leader but he may still form a new party ahead of the August 1 deadline to submit lists for the September 17 election.

The deadline to join the Labor race is Tuesday at 4 p.m. In the last Labor leadership contest in July 2017, there were nine candidates, but this time, there are currently only three: MKs Amir Peretz, Stav Shaffir and Itzik Shmuli.

“I had more than one offer to lead Labor, but I reached the conclusion that it would not be right to run,” he told Channel 12’s Ulpan Shishi program. “I decided I needed to consider the possibility of forming a party like we did 20 years ago [referring to the One Israel Party he formed, with which he won the 1999 election].”

Barak complained that too much energy is being wasted on internal fights. He lamented that in the April election, Blue and White directed too much attention to taking votes away from Labor and Meretz and not enough from the Likud. He said if he formed a new party, he would want to merge it with Blue and White.

Asked if he would want to head a Center-Left bloc, Barak joked that he would do so only if the Center-Left bloc formed the next government and while serving as prime minister, he could continue his business interests in the fields of cybertechnology and medical cannabis.

“We get older and change and understand that there are other talented people who could do it,” he said.

Former Labor MK Danny Yatom also announced that he would not seek the party chairmanship after seriously considering it.

A Ma’agar Mohot poll broadcast over the weekend on 103FM found that if the election would be held now, the Center-Right bloc would win 60 seats without Yisrael Beytenu, just like in the April election. Such a result would make it hard for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form a government.

When Likud voters were asked who in Likud should replace Netanyahu if he stepped down, 33% said MK Gideon Sa’ar, 29% Foreign Minister Israel Katz, 16% Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, 10% former justice minister Ayelet Shaked and 6% Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan. In the general public, Sa’ar also had the most support among those prospective candidates.
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