Tel Aviv Mayor Huldai to Run for PM

Mayor of Tel Aviv Ron Huldai in Tel Aviv, in February, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai said that on Tuesday he will formally announce the establishment of new political party under his leadership, according to media reports.

“Hundreds of thousands of Israelis feel they have no home in the current political system. We will raise our heads and give them back their hope. After a number of key figures in the Israeli public joined me, it was time to present a clear alternative,” said Huldai.

Huldai, 76, has been the mayor of Tel Aviv for the past 22 years, and has been surveying the field for a national run since at least last May, when he spoke about it publicly.

The reports did not say who might be joining his party. Huldai has been in talks about forging an alliance with Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn (Blue and White) and former IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot, but nothing final has been reported.

A Channel 12 poll conducted in October found that running at the head of his own party he would win six Knesset seats.

The veteran secular leftist, from the Labor party, would draw votes from the existing center-left parties, further splintering that constituency. The poll showed that his Huldai’s campaign would seriously damage Meretz, which might barely clear the 3.25 percent (or four-seat) vote threshold below which a party has no representation in the Knesset.

If Eisenkot, whom polls have shown could win 15 seats, joins Huldai, it would a formidable force, possibly taking third place among all the parties in the country.

Like a number of other candidates in the March 23 election, Huldai has set toppling Prime Minister Netanyahu as his priority, to the extent of sharing the limelight with someone else. “If my being number 2 to someone will contribute to ousting this government, I’ll be there,” he told Channel 12 on October 4.

Since Gideon Saar has already patented the name New Hope for his party, Huldai will have to come up with something else.

It’s doubtful that there’s any more “Hope” left in Israeli politics.

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