Dr. Uzi Landau, who served as a Knesset member on behalf of the Likud
for 22 years, is moving to Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu
party, Ynet has learned.
Last week, Landau decided not to run for the 18th Knesset on behalf of the Likud.
"This wasn't an easy decision for me, but I'm at peace with it," Landau said at a joint press conference with Lieberman.
He went on to slam his former party. "Today I'm leaving the Likud, which was my political home since my youth. I served there with many friends for many years. Even after it cleaned itself off the Kadima gang, which has no way and no ideology and is essentially an expression of opportunism, the Likud is still gradually losing its identity, and it's unclear to me where it is heading."
Landau explained why he decided to move to Yisrael Beiteinu. "People don’t want to buy another pig in a poke and they are right. In order to maintain democracy, a public discourse is needed, and therefore clear stances must be taken on fundamental issues, on the settlement and on defeating the terror coming from Gaza.
"After the elections Israel may face a campaign of international and political pressure, and we must quickly built the wall which will strengthen the national camp's leadership and way – and the State of Israel.
"Yisrael Beiteinu, the party I'm joining, is the anchor in the heart of the national camp. It's the wall. I disagree with some of its views and moves, but I can't forget for one moment that in some of the most important tests in regards to Israel's security and future, like the Road Map and disengagement, I found more partners to my views among its representatives than among my friends at the Likud."
He added that he was not leaving home. "I'm leaving the tool in order to safeguard my home. The national camp was and remains my home. I'm convinced that my real friends who shared my way throughout the years will understand. Many will likely join us. The people of Israel need a strong national camp, which is the hope for passing the tests we are facing."
Lieberman and Landau at press conference (Photo: Dana Kopel)
Landau said that his decision to join Yisrael Beiteinu had nothing to do with the fact that the party has no primary elections, as opposed to the Likud. He noted that had he run in the Likud primaries he would have reached a respectable position.
Lieberman said, "If Uzi Landau had run in the Likud, he would have reached a very high position. Landau is here to be Yisrael Beiteinu's No. 2. He has come to serve as a senior partner."
During the press conference, Lieberman said, "This is undoubtedly an exciting moment for me. As far as the Yisrael Beiteinu movement is concerned, this is a merit certificate, having one of the highly esteemed people in Israeli politics has decided to join Yisrael Beiteinu.
"Landau is one of the first people I met in Israeli politics. For years we have held talks, agreeing and arguing."
Lieberman added that he and Landau had disagreed on several issues. "I would like to stress that we didn’t always agree on things, but we always had a lot of appreciation for each other. As far as I'm concerned, Landau is here as a senior partner. The values he represents are more important than anything else...
"In most cases, including when we sat together in the government, we voted the same way all the time. The most important thing as far as I am concerned – particularly on the eve of decisions which have to be made on the diplomatic, security and economic level – is the broadest common denominator. The national camp must speak clearly. We need clear statements and a clear and strong leadership."
Landau, 65, served in the past as internal security minister in the first Ariel Sharon
government and as minister without a portfolio in the second Sharon government. He did not enter the 17th Knesset as he was placed in the 14th place in the Likud roster, and the party only won 12 Knesset seats.
In February 2007, he submitted his resignation from the Likud Knesset list after MK Danny Danny Naveh resigned from the Knesset and Landau did not wish to replace him in the Israeli parliament. Naveh was eventually succeeded by MK Yuli Edelstein.
Amnon Meranda contributed to this report