New ‘the Israelis’ party picks IDF general who organized Gaza pullout, eviction of 8,000 Jews

Gen. (res.) Dan Harel joins the leadership of The Israelis while Ron Huldai promises that half of his list will be female.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Former deputy chief of staff Gen. (res.) Dan Harel announced Tuesday that he is joining the leadership of The Israelis, the new center-Left party of Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai.

“I decided that I can’t stand aside in the face of what is happening in the Israel that I love,” he said. “I found a home where I can serve the State of Israel in accordance with my values…. The current situation cannot be allowed to continue.”

Harel will be most remembered with disdain by the right-wing in Israel for leading the IDF’s mission to expel some 8,000 Jews from the Gaza Strip in 2005, when he served as the head of the Southern Command. Beholden to the country’s political leadership, he carried out his orders, but said repeatedly afterwards that removing the army and Jewish citizens in a one-sided withdrawal had been a mistake.

Five years later, he told a Channel 2 interviewer that he had warned his superiors that leaving the Strip would only bring about more terrorism.

“It was clear to me that the terror would continue from Gaza,” he said. “We saw the rise of Hamas to power and were not surprised.”

Since the Disengagement, Hamas and other terrorist organizations in the coastal enclave have fired well over 15,000 rockets and mortars at Israel. The IDF has conducted three large military campaigns in Gaza in deterrence efforts that have been likened to “mowing the grass,” in acknowledgment that a permanent solution is unlikely if Israel does not want to take full control of Gaza again.

In joining The Israelis, Harel becomes the military expert all parties that lean to the Left in Israel seem to feel they need to burnish their “tough on security” credentials for a public that usually has this issue at the top of their list of concerns.  Together with former Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn, who jumped ship from Blue and White, Huldai’s top three faces are now seemingly set.

However, in rolling out his election campaign Tuesday evening, Huldai also promised that his Knesset list will be 50% female in order to demonstrate his commitment to equality between the sexes.

“We believe that having women in key positions in politics and in the decision-making centers is an indispensable prerequisite in the State of Israel,” he said at his press conference.  “We will try to have a list that is half women, and so too in every subsequent executive position.”

The four female candidates he presented “had rich records of achievement and professionalism in a variety of fields – in education, law, administration and society.”

They were University of Washington Professor Karine Nahon, who is married to former Likud minister Michael Eitan, Moroccan-born educator Keren Tal, the head of Tel Aviv’s Departments of Informal Education and Urban Renewal, Adi Tzabari, and another refugee from Blue and White, MK Einav Kabla, who resigned from the Knesset on Sunday.