Ehud Barak’s new party will be called “Democratic Israel,” he announced over the weekend, as he prepared to embark on a major media campaign to convince Israelis, especially Likud voters, to give him another chance as prime minister. Weekend polls showed he had a way to go for that to happen; several placed him at just four seats, straddling the electoral threshold.
“Israel is just a few steps away from the total dissolution of its democracy,” Barak said at a press conference introducing the party’s name. “We are just a few steps away from giving up who we are and what we stand for. The loss of our democracy is a strategic threat, no less than the Iranian threat. The choice for each of us is between a State of Israel or a ‘State of Netanyahu.’”
Barak’s list is still in formation, but so far he has signed up IDF Reserve General Yair Golan, attorney Yifat Bitton, businessman Koby Richter, former Labor candidate Yair Frank, and attorney Sagit Peretz Deri. Political analysts believe that Barak is shopping around for possible unifications with other parties, such as Labor or Meretz, but the likelihood of his joining with Labor head Amir Peretz, with whom Barak has had a long-standing feud, is considered unlikely.
Barak also said that he would not join a government led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. “No way and no how,” said Barak. Commenting on the new party, Knesset Speaker and Likud MK Yuli Edelstein said that “democracy begins with a democratic process in the party,” referring to the fact that Barak is putting his list together as he sees fit, without primaries or input from party members. “You don’t need to learn this from the Likud, you can ask the party that wrecked and abandoned,” the Labor party, Edelstein said.