Billionaire mogul and founder of the 'Social Justice' party Arcadi Gaydamak announced on Sunday evening that he would be willing to accept a position in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s government were the latter to offer him a ministerial position overseeing either Diaspora or Jerusalem affairs.
Speaking at a press conference held in conjunction with the three resigning members of the Gil Pensioners party at Social Justice's new offices in Jerusalem, the controversial businessman and public figure went on to say his newly-minted political party may yet claim a sizable stake in the Knesset.
Knesset members Moshe Sharoni, Elhanan Glazer and Sara Marom-Shalev confirmed they had decided to abandon the Pensioners party and establish a new political faction called 'Justice for Pensioners' that would be part and parcel of Gaydamak's existing party, which he refers to as a social movement.
In the absence of an invitation to become a minister, Gaydamak said he may also consider joining the coalition if Sharoni is made minister of social. Sharoni was quick to say it was not the position that should matter but rather an overall concern for the pensioners’ affairs.
Gaydamak refused to commit to any particulars regarding his party’s political-defense platform, though Sharoni stepped in and replied that the party would be against ceding the Golan Heights and in favor of a referendum prior to any withdrawals.
"As for the settlement with the Palestinians, the party will discuss each new agreement separately. In any event the party opposes the division of Jerusalem, which shall remain unified for all of eternity."
Gaydamak stressed that the party would "show solidarity with the government,” something he said was crucial to allow the latter to attain its goals, regardless of who happens to be prime minister.
He reiterated that “we are not professional politicians,” but also pledged that in the event he does become politically active he intends to sever his connections to the business world, including his ownership of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer firm.
Olmert to meet with Gaydamak
The MKs decision to side with Gaydamak provides him with significant influence over Israeli politics. Even if he himself has not yet been elected, his full involvement in the new party allows him to wield undeniable power in the Knesset.
Gaydamak’s back-door entry into the political arena saw his overnight transformation into a player highly courted by politicians.
Olmert, whose coalition has shriveled even further in the wake of the Pensioners' MKs resignation, is already in talks with Gaydamak.
The two are expected to meet in the near future to examine the possibility of launching cooperative efforts in the Knesset and perhaps even in the government.
MK Sharoni denied there was any connection between the new party and the recently disclosed police investigation against Olmert, saying negotiations with Gaydamak had begun more than two weeks ago.