Former PM Ehud Barak names new party ‘Democratic Israel’

The former Israeli premier announced on Saturday the name of his recently formed political party, with a billboard campaign set to launch on Sunday under the banner “State of Netanyahu or State of Israel?”

By World Israel News Staff and AP

Former prime minister Ehud Barak announced on Saturday that he is calling his newly formed party “Democratic Israel,” which he hopes can defeat Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party in the upcoming September elections.

On Saturday evening, Barak tweeted, “The State of Israel is only moments away from the total dissolution of Israeli democracy. Now is the time to restore hope and courage to Israel, to unite and get Israel back on track. We are Democratic Israel.”

On Sunday, Barak’s party will unveil a billboard campaign with the slogan, “State of Netanyahu or the State of Israel?” reported Channel 12 news.

The 77-year-old Barak, who was once Netanyahu’s army commander, served as military chief and then prime minister from 1999 to 2001. Most recently, he served as Netanyahu’s defense minister. He retired from politics in 2013, but has been an outspoken critic of Netanyahu since.

Speaking shortly after he announced his return to the national political stage two weeks ago, Barak said his party would work with other opposition parties to create a large enough bloc to form a parliamentary majority after the Sept. 17 election.

It remains unclear what impact Barak will have on the race. Once seen as the heir apparent to the late Yitzhak Rabin, Barak engaged in peace negotiations with the Palestinians during his time as prime minister. But his popularity plummeted after a wave of Palestinian terror attacks erupted and he was quickly voted out of office.

Supporters view him as perhaps the only figure with the security credentials and gravitas to challenge the long-ruling Netanyahu. But critics see him as a failed prime minister.

Barak joins a political field already crowded with former military brass. The Blue and White party, which drew even with Netanyahu’s Likud in the April 9 election, is headed by former army chief of staff Benny Gantz and two other ex-generals.