Yaalon Announces Party Start-Up

YERUSHALAYIM -
Former Israeli Minister of Defense Moshe “Boogie” Yaalon. (Flash90)

Former defense minister Moshe Yaalon announced Tuesday that he’s forming a new political party to run in the April elections.

“This party won’t have any shenanigans,” he said, referring to the various corruption allegations that have plagued Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Retired IDF Brig. Gen. Gal Hirsch, a former candidate for police commissioner, was the first public figure to join Yaalon.

Hirsch was nominated for the position of police commissioner by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan in August 2015, but shortly after his nomination was announced, media reports surfaced saying that the FBI and Israel Police had been conducting a two-year undercover corruption investigation into businesses linked to him.

In October, state prosecutors concluded that there was no evidence of wrongdoing in the case, clearing Hirsch’s name.

Yaalon, a former Likud MK, has been associated with Israel’s right wing, but has been outspokenly critical of Netanyahu since he left the Defense Ministry in 2016.

Meanwhile, another serial critic of his ex-boss Netanyahu, former prime minister and defense minister Ehud Barak was publicly mulling a political comeback following the announcement on Monday of early elections.

Barak admitted that he could not defeat Netanyahu alone, but would ally with others to do so.

“If a center-left bloc coalesces that is led by a man who can both win elections and govern the country, he will win the election,” Barak told Hadashot.

“It’s important to me that this bloc be formed — certainly I could lead it, I’ve led [a party] to victory in elections over Netanyahu — but I cannot make myself a condition to the formation of the bloc,” continued Barak.

“There is certainly a chance I will join — but I alone am not enough,” added the 76-year-old former Israeli leader.

A more realistic comeback candidacy was confirmed on Tuesday by former Education Minister Gideon Saar.

The still-popular Likud politician quit politics in 2014 and has since been seen as a potential rival to Netanyahu for leadership of the party.

But on Tuesday, Saar disavowed that role. “I am not a threat to Netanyahu…I am here to strengthen the Likud and Netanyahu,” he said.

“To anyone who was still in doubt, I am announcing I will run in the primaries,” Sa’ar told Israel Radio the following morning. “I believe my success in the primaries will help Likud win the general elections.”

Likud will be conducting its primaries on February 5, party officials said.

The primaries are expected to feature a run by former Yerushalayim mayor Nir Barkat for a top slot on the electoral slate.

Kulanu MK Yoav Gallant, currently housing minister, is widely believed to be planning to switch to the Likud.