Barak Formally Inagurates New Party
The day after unveiling his own peace plan, another on the list of Israeli offers, Defense Minister Ehud Barak formally inaugurated his 'Independence' party in Tel Aviv.
Saying Israeli politics had deteriorated into "tricks and shticks" and were filled with "opportunists and charlatans," Barak vowed his new party would prove to be an exception. Barak aslo rejected polls that said Independence would not pass the 2 percent threshold to be seated in the next election.
"I have bad news and good news for you," Barak told the 80 founding members of his party. "The bad news is that we are doing badly in the polls, but the good news is that we can only go up from here."
Barak was unanimously elected head of the party at the event, held on the Hebrew anniversary of his withdrawal of Israeli troops from Lebanon. The party is expected to hold its first rally in a month and a half. Until then, Homefront Minister Matan Vilna'i will attempt to woo former MKs and other well-known figures to the party.
Mocking his former party, Labor, Barak said "this is the first time that I feel I am in a party where the relations between the members are genuine and true."
Analysts say Barak's following his peace plan with the party inauguration is likely intended to generate buzz and increase polling numbers as he eyes future elections. Whether or not Barak will remain in the coalition or seek to distance himself from the ruling Likud party remains to be seen.
Industry, Trade, and Labor Minister Shalom Simhon rejected criticism that Independence would be a dictatorship led by Barak, who according to the party's bylaws will not have to face primaries or central committee.
The bylaws also permit the party chairman to sign join a government and sign coalition agreements without authorization.
"There is nothing wrong with allowing the leader of a party to run it," Simhon told reporters. "That's one of the reasons we left Labor."
The founding members voted to approve the new party's platform, written by the head of the Independence faction in the Knesset, MK Einat Wilf.
Wilf expressed pride in the party's platforms brevity, "unlike in other parties, people will actually read the platform."