On Wednesday, June 26, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak announced that he was back in politics. Barak was prime minister of the Labor Party from 1999 to 2001. He was also defense minister of Israel from 2007 to 2013, of which the last four years were in Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. Now Barak will challenge his former boss in the new election in September, writes Times of Israel.
– We have come here today to announce the establishment of a new party that will work to reform the country and society. Now is not the time to sit still on the sidelines, Barak said during the press conference in Tel Aviv. Also present were his political partners – former IDF chief Yair Golan, law professor Yifat Biton and entrepreneur Kobi Richter. The name of the new party is not yet known.
Barak, now 77, was the longest-serving Israeli defense chief and the country’s most decorated soldier when he was elected prime minister in 1999 – after defeating Netanyahu. In 2011, he broke with the Labor Party. Since then, he has been independent. Now he hopes to be able to repeat the success of 1999.
– Netanyahu’s career is coming to an end, Barak said during the presentation.
A poll conducted after Barak’s announcement shows that the former prime minister is currently running for six seats in the Knesset. Netanyahu’s Likud party and Benny Gant’s party Blue and White (Kachol Lavan), which are the two largest parties in Israel, have 32 seats each.
Netanyahu and Likud received the most votes in the April election, but failed to form a government. Therefore, new elections were called in Israel at the end of May.
One of the biggest obstacles to forming a coalition government has been a controversial conscription law, which meant that a larger proportion of ultra-Orthodox Jews had to serve in the Israeli defense.
Israelis go to the polls again on September 17.