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Anti-corruption protest leader forms new party ahead of elections

Eldad Yaniv, an anti-Netanyahu campaigner and former Labor activist, calls for ‘new, honest people to lead the country’

Activist Eldad Yaniv in Tel Aviv on February 8, 2015. (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
Activist Eldad Yaniv in Tel Aviv on February 8, 2015. (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)

The flurry of new parties being founded ahead of the April 9 elections continues as a prominent anti-corruption activist announced the formation of yet another party.

Eldad Yaniv said Saturday night he would head the new party, to be named “The Protest Movement Leads the Country.”

Yaniv is one of the prominent leaders of a group of activists demonstrating against what they say is corruption in government. Over the past two years the group has staged regular rallies calling for the indictment Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the three graft cases underway against him. Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing.

“Because we’ve fought for two years in the streets, because we’re in love with our country, because all the old, corrupt politicians need to be sent home, because the time has come for new, honest people to lead the country,” Yaniv wrote on Twitter after the announcement.

Yaniv previously ran for Knesset in the January 2013 elections in a long-shot bid at the head of his “Eretz Hadasha” or “New Land” party. He failed to pass the electoral threshold, winning just over 26,000 votes.

He then joined the Labor party for a time, but left in March saying he was disillusioned with the party’s heads, whom he said were not aggressive enough in their efforts to regain national leadership.

Menny Naftali, center, and Eldad Yaniv, far right, the main organizers of a weekly protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in front of the home of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit in Petah Tikva, August 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)

“This time we’re going to win,” he told the Haaretz daily Saturday night, asked whether he was concerned a failure to enter the Knesset this time would only rob the left yet again of votes.

Gonen Ben Yitzhak, in the US testifying on behalf of Mosab Hassan Yousef, 2010 (YouTube screenshot)

Yaniv’s new list includes figures from both Labor and the new protest movement, including Dina Dayan, who ran for Labor leader in 2017, and Gonen Ben Yitzhak, a former Shin Bet official who became a prominent anti-Netanyahu campaigner.

The new party joins a host of others, including a “New Right” faction announced Saturday night by Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. Ben Yitzhak, a former Shin Bet officer who for many years handled the Shin Bet agent Mosab Hassan Yousef — the son of West Bank Hamas co-founder Sheikh Hassan Yousef — heckled the politicians during that “New Right” party announcement.

Former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz formally entered politics on Thursday with the registration of his new party, Israel Resilience, and is expected to court centrist voters. Ex- defense minister Moshe Ya’alon has discussed joining him. Polls have shown Gantz’s party potentially coming in second place behind Likud in the elections, with 13 seats.

MK Orly Levy-Abekasis, previously of Yisrael Beyetenu, is setting up a new party called Gesher, which is projected to win around six seats, according to recent polls.

Likud is still currently the clear favorite in the race, projected to win seats in the high twenties or low thirties; a united run by Gantz and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid could come close to that number, but Gantz is said disinclined to enter such an alliance.

For his part, Zionist Union leader and Labor party chief Avi Gabbay on Saturday vowed he would be prime minister after April’s elections, despite polls forecasting his opposition faction losing over half the 24 seats it now holds.

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