Knesset Member Ephraim Sneh held a special press conference Sunday, announcing he was leaving the Labor Party and forming a new party, named "Strong Israel". The name, said a proud Sneh, "symbolizes both social and military resilience."
"Two things are threatening the future existence of Israel – the internal social divide and the external threats," he told reporters.
"On the inside, the polarization within Israeli society is widening, the quality of education and social services is declining and the sense of partnership and mutual guarantee is fading.
"On the outside, those who wish to destroy us are getting stronger. This situation – and few know its ins and outs as well as I do – require Israel have a better national leadership and a better political arena, but in reality, the quality of our leadership is deteriorating and the public is tired of politics.
"I feel there is a need for a new party to fill the void," said Sneh. "One that has a clear social agenda, that can push the peace initiative and that can attract new, quality 'blood' to politics.
Filling a void. Sneh (Photo: Ofer Amram)
"I know I have a bumpy road ahead of me, a long way to go, but I have never – not in my military career not in my political one – shied away form difficulties. I have always chosen the path best for the nation, as I do now. I will welcome anyone who wants to join me. Something tells me I won’t be left waiting."
As for leaving Labor, Sneh was adamant that his departure was not motivated by personal differences: "Strong Israel was not born as a result of my relationships with anyone, but of the beliefs of what I think is best for Israel and their gap from Labor.
"Labor, unfortunately, has gone through some bad times and has lost its core unity… I've done my best to stop this process, pushed initiatives and moves, but eventually came to the conclusion that Labor isn't ready for any changes right now, and therefore cannot find its way out of its crisis."
David Yadger, of Sneh's confidants, told Ynet the former minister had received – and rejected – an offer to join Kadima; and that joining Arcadi Gaydamak's Social Justice for Pensioners party was never an option, "since he would rather form an independent party which reflects his beliefs, no matter how much of a political gamble it is and even if it means crashing and falling off the political map."
Sneh's relationship with Labor Chairman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, added Yadger, has been tense for a long time: "He can't see Labor reaching any of its goals in its present state… it has no one to navigate it. The Labor head has become a liability to the party – there's no going around that."
Roi Mandel contributed to this report