It's official: Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday morning announced in a letter to Labor Party Secretary-General Eitan Cabel that he plans to run in the elections for the party's leadership, scheduled to take place at the end of May.
The new candidate's schedule this week includes meeting with party officials, and starting next week Barak is expected to tour the party's offices across the country.
In a letter to the party secretary-general, Barak noted that he had mulled the idea for a long time. He admitted that he became prime minister too early.
"I made quite a lot of mistakes, and my inexperience was to my detriment. Today I know that there are no shortcuts, definitely in the public and political life, and the leadership is a joint mission and not a one man's task. One cannot succeed on his own, and in any case, common sense, will and talent alone are not enough to lead a country," Barak stated.
According to Barak, "The public call issued by Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, a senior general and a person who has already served as defense minister and the party's chairman, alongside talks I had with many of the faction members, have led me to the decision that I must once again dedicate myself in the coming years to public's service through hard labor, and to contribute from my experience to Israel's security.
"The State of Israel, the IDF and the defense establishment have undergone a difficult shock. I believe that I have the experience and the maturity to serve as the State of Israel's next defense minister."
Barak has been considering the possibility of entering the race for a long time and has examined his chances through internal polls and meetings with different elements in the Labor Party.
Barak's thus joins Ophir Pines-Paz, Ami Ayalon, Amir Peretz and Danny Yatom, who have already declared themselves candidates.
Barak's associates said that in the coming months he plans to travel across the country and meet as many party activists and members as possible in order to convince them of his advantages and of the value of his vast experience as a former general and a former prime minister.
Ayalon: Reality calls
Knesset Member Ami Ayalon welcomed Barak's decision to return to party activity.
"The harsh reality in which the State of Israel is in obligates each and every one of us to contribute to the State and not to care for his own home," Ayalon said.
He added that "Barak's candidacy will provide Labor members and the people of Israel with a clear and sharp choice between returning to the past way which we know and different politics of reliability, integrity and responsibility."
MK Ophir Pines-Paz said, "I once again call on Barak not to run, but rather to join me with a joint message, 'Barak for defense minister and Pines for Labor chairman.' This is the formula which will provide a real and complete answer to the needs of the State of Israel and the Labor Party."
Meanwhile, Knesset Members Amir Ayalon and Avishay Braverman announced Saturday night that they were joining forces in the race for the Labor Party premiership. Prof. Braverman decided over the weekend to drop out from the race and to support MK Ayalon's candidacy.
Ayalon and Braverman issued a joint statement in which they said they were presenting "a real leadership instead of a hollow leadership."
Ayalon hopes to maintain a positive momentum, and is not leading the polls over all the other candidates.
MK Ayalon said following Braverman's move that "the Labor Party will be able to return to power and change the country only if it presents a real alternative to the way in which the State of Israel is now being run. In the face of corruption we will present integrity and public cleanliness, in the face of the culture of 'everything will be okay' we will present a leadership with an organized outlook and strategy."
Ayalon praised Braverman's contribution to Israel's economic and educational power.
"Avishay is also a close friend. He has a lot of support both in the public and in the Labor Party, and I am pleased that he chose to establish an alliance with me, which is based on integrity, values and the truth.
"His inclusion testifies that we can make different politics here. I thank him for that and I see him as a real partner to my way and to my team, which will lead the Labor Party and the State of Israel."
MK Braverman expressed his concern over what was happening in the government systems, "Which has reached an unprecedented low these days – lack of leadership, failure to take responsibility, renouncing the duty to take care of the citizens, and first and foremost, the corruption, which turned from a worrying phenomenon to a real strategic threat.
"This reality obligates all of us to put any personal consideration aside and work for a real change in the country. Therefore, I decided to remove my candidacy and join Ami Ayalon," he stated.
Last week, former Minister Ophir Pines-Paz announced that he was launching his campaign for the party's leadership.