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Ehud Barak Photo: Yaron Brener
Ehud Barak Photo: Yaron Brener
 
 

Independence Party formally installed

Ex-Labor Chair Ehud Barak's new party holds first meeting in Tel Aviv. Barak tells followers current poll ratings dismal, but 'the only way is up'

Boaz Fyler
Published: 05.12.11, 20:19 / Israel News

Former Labor Chairman Ehud Barak's new party – "Independence" – was formally introduced Thursday, holding its founding conference in Tel Aviv.

 

At the meeting, Barak told followers that he had "good news and bad news. The bad news is that right now, we're at the bottom of the polls; the good news is – the only way is up."

 

Ex-Labor Knesset members Einat Wilf, Minister for Home Front Defense Matan Vilnai, Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Shalom Simhon and Agriculture Minister Orit Noked – who are the core group of the new party – were in attendance as well.


No tricks, no shticks. Barak (Photo: Yaron Brener)

 

Barak was elected Independence chairman by the party's 80 members; who then turned to debate the party's goals, platform and codex.

 

"I'm thrilled to be here," Barak said. "We seek to form a democratic, Zionist party inspired by the spirit of Ben Gurion and the principles stated in the Declaration of Independence.

 

"We're also choosing our song today – Frank Sinatra's 'That's Life,'" he continued. "With Israeli politics, government and political discourse in need of profound mending, there are many fine people who want to see the country march forward. And they are right. That is what we're here to do," said Barak.

 

He further dismissed comparisons made in the political arena between the new party and "Polishuk" – a satire of Israeli politics inspired by the BBC's "The thick of it" – saying that, "Today's politics is full of shticks and tricks and spins. We are not Polishuk.

 

"We are still small, but we intend on growing. Eight members, each bringing 80 members, who in turn bring 80 members is 20 mandates. We want to be the first party to have 50 women in key positions."

 

As for Independence's security platform, Barak said his party will "turn Iron Dome into an emergency contingency and deploy it, and Magic Wand, in full within two years."

 

The party's financial platform is based "on our belief in economic growth alongside bolstering the weaker classes, with aim of supporting the middle class and independent businesses."

 

Minister Vilnai added that launching a new party "is a complex move. We have trying days ahead of us, but that doesn’t matter. The decision to leave Labor was not easy for any of us. We are Zionists, we believe in peace and in achieving it out of a position of power. It is possible and we will get it done."

 

Barak's newfound independence

Initial details of Independence Party's codex suggest that Barak – a veteran of muddy political waters – has ensured smooth sailing for himself.

 

According to Yedioth Ahronoth, Independence's chairman – i.e. Barak – is free of the need for primaries in order to chair the party. He may also personally name up to 25% of the party's central committee members, and will head the party's secretariat – its executive branch.

 

Barak will also enjoy the exclusive right to name the party's treasurer, spokesperson and legal counsel, and will have the sole authority to sign political agreements on its behalf. Barak and the future party director-general will have exclusive administrative proxy, as well.

 

The party codex, which was drafted by Attorney Ari Hillel, is meant to provide Barak with "operational clam" and rid him of the normal hassles associated with party leadership.

 

The party has yet to choose the method according to which its Knesset list will be comprised, but according to a party source, Barak will have to position Vilnai, Wilf, Simhon and Noked in the top slots.

 

Avinoam Brog, Barak's brother, occupies the party's sixth seat.

 

Compared with the codices of Labor and Likud, the Independence Party's new code stands to make Barak's party life extremely easy, since by controlling all major party institutions, he has de facto absolute power over the party, its decisions and fate.

 

Ronen Medzini and Yuval Karni contributed to this report

 

 

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