A former IDF commando who saved the life of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decades ago, when they were both serving in the elite Sayeret Matkael commando unit, has set up a rival political party to run in the coming elections.
Amos Danieli, 70, formed the Lemaanenu (For Our Sake) party, a Jewish-Arab movement that will campaign for social equality.
“There is no left or right,” Danieli said. “The aim is to have influence from within the government on the circumstances of minorities in Israel and to bring about an equal society that grants equal opportunities to all citizens.
“It seems that the conditions are ripe for creating a strong society based on the values of equality and social solidarity,” Danieli said.
Danieli saved Netanyahu during a military operation that ran into trouble on May 13, 1969. A group of commandos were making their way across the Suez Canal in a small boat when they came under heavy fire from Egyptian troops.
In the ensuing confusion, as the IDF soldiers tried to make their way back to safety, Netanyahu fell out of his boat and, weighted down by equipment, began to drown. His comrades tried to help him out of the water but it was Danieli who finally pulled Netanyahu to safety.
Danieli said that over the decades he drifted apart from Netanyahu.
“Politics caused a bit of a distance between us,” Danieli said. “He can’t brand everyone who disagrees with him a traitor.”
Among those who have joined his party are Wallid Dia, a social worker who set up a drug rehabilitation center for Jews and Arabs, and Jaris Matar, the former head of the northern local council of Eilabun.
Netanyahu, who leads the Likud party, will be campaigning for reelection as prime minister in the April 9 elections.