Official in billionaire Arcadi Gaydamak's Social Justice party claimed Thursday that 140,000 Israelis have joined the party's ranks thus far. If the figures provided are accurate, the new party has become the largest in Israel
in terms of membership numbers.
At this time, the Likud party boasts 125,000 members whereas Labor claims to have roughly 100,000 members.
The Gaydamak way – will Israelis follow his lead?
According to the party, a total of 140,000 Israelis have signed their name in support of Social Justice's platform. As opposed to other parties, membership in Gaydamak's party is free of charge. At this time, the main effort undertaken by party officials is to enlist as many Likud members as possible, thus weakening Likud both in terms of membership numbers and through the subsequent reduction in member fees.
Likud currently faces a large deficit as a result of its low number of Knesset members, with most revenues produced by membership fees. Should Likud lose members, this would significantly undermine the party's budget and lead to a growing deficit.
However, Social Justice still needs to overcome another obstacle, in the form of an examination of the 140,000-strong membership list, in order to ensure some of those who joined the party are not listed as members of other parties as well. By law, Israelis are allowed to be members of only party only, and must request to be deleted from their old party should they wish to switch sides.
The membership numbers are apparently boosting Gaydamak's appetite. Thus far, party officials declared that they will be competing in roughly 80 local municipalities in the upcoming municipal elections. However, this number is growing daily, and in recent closed-door sessions Gaydamak apparently declared that his party will be competing in 120 municipalities.
However, on Thursday officials said they may be fielding representatives in about 180 municipalities.