Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak Flash 90

Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak convened a press conference this afternoon as part of his new party campaign.

"I'd like to send my heartfelt condolences, on behalf of my friends and family, to Solomon's family for the painful loss of his son Solomon Takka," he said.

"The Israelis of Ethiopian origin have often experienced discrimination and over-enforcement, and a speedy, fearless, and impartial investigation is required here. I won't go into the details of the incident itself, ut Solomon's death was difficult, outrageous, and unnecessary. As a society, we must do everything so that such difficult and heartrending cases don't repeat themselves.

"True, Israeli society as a whole must uproot any manifestation of racism or labeling by race, gender, or color," Barak stressed.

"My position is that the relationship between Judaism and Israel's heritage to the State of Israel is deep and complex - these are our roots, the reason we came here, and the source of the human connection between us all," Barak said.

"But I stand for an open, respectful, tolerant, and enlightened society, in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence and the vision of the Prophets. We're against the invasion of the individual's private space. We're against dictating what is permitted and what's forbidden to do on Shabbat. We're against pushing women back. Against preventing their singing. Against separation in the public sphere. We're against separatism and condescension of any kind," Barak said.

"We favor the Declaration of Independence, we favor complete equality of rights, regardless of religion, race, gender, and sexual preference. We're against everything that is stuck here because of an extreme, weak and corrupt regime. We came to the political arena to solve the fundamental problems of Israel. We have the courage to make decisions, and the power to carry them out."

"It's time for a change, it's time for correction, it's about time we became one nation. The time has come for Israel to flourish for all Israelis. Therefore, we're here today to tell the public that a government that we'll be involved in its establishment will lead within 12 months to cancelling the Draft Law. End of Israbluff. We'll bring and implement a combination program: From recruitment in appearance, to actual integration. We're committed to slicing this Gordian knot that's become a dead end.

"Just as I cut the Gordian knot of a useless and bleeding stay in southern Lebanon after nearly 20 years, we'll cut this Gordian knot if you give us your trust, and move forward from failed coercion to successful integration," Barak promised.

"I, your servant, 20 years ago as prime minister - I established the Tal Committee that dealt with the question of enlisting yeshiva students and postponing IDF service. We all had good intentions. But one must tell the truth. Implementing the Tal Law failed. And that was the fate of all the attempts since then. So it's time to tell the truth! It didn't work and won't work. Again, the time has come for leadership that will take responsibility and act to change reality from the ground up," Barak explained.

"The integration program we're committed to is based on four elements: First, the IDF will recruit according to its needs, and everyone who wants to serve in it will continue to be the 'People's Army.' Those serving in the IDF will receive appropriate salaries. Second, all the other young men and women in society, including Arabs, will serve national-civil service. Thirdly, most haredi citizens, women and men, will participate in the employment market. Fourth, an honorable arrangement for a group of outstanding Torah scholars whose Torah is their profession, as part of the Jewish tradition and commitment that David Ben-Gurion declared," Barak elaborated.

"Our goal is to bring Israel back on track and topple Netanyahu's regime. We won't sit with him in one government under any circumstances or in any way. We'll join hands to bring him down and after his departure, we'll sit with all those who agree with the principles of our concept: a Jewish, Zionist, and democratic state, in the spirit of the values of the Declaration of Independence and the vision of the Prophets. We bring with us what was missing in the previous elections: recognition of the size of the bloc and prevention of internal strife within it. As the main ingredient on the road to victory, we bring focused energy, which was so lacking in the previous campaign. And we call on all parties in the Leftist bloc to join hands and unite into one winning fist. We have no preconditions, except for unity of purpose. And we will fight for this belief as much as we can," closed Barak.