Former prime minister Ehud Barak on Wednesday gave the strongest indication yet that he is considering another political run, telling a TV interview he is the most qualified candidate to serve as Israel’s prime minister.
In a preview of an interview with Hadashot television news (formerly Channel 2) on Wednesday, set to air in full on Saturday, Barak said no one is better suited to run the country.
“Today I am more mature and better able to lead the State of Israel than any of the other candidates,” he said, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The former defense minister, 75, claimed that many people have urged him to return to political life.
“It’s no secret that many people come to me and tell me: ‘Come, get on with it, do something,'” he said.
“Someone sent me a poll… from four months ago… which showed that in a race between me and Netanyahu I would win the majority of the secular vote,” he said, adding that he is “not so humble” as to reject the facts.
“Among the general public he wins, but neither of us reaches 40 percent,” Barak said, referring to the unnamed poll. “Thirty-five percent of the public are still undecided, [and this comes] as Bibi is prime minister and I am just a civilian who tweets,” he said, calling Netanyahu by his nickname.
According to Hadashot news, Barak did not comment on whether he would seek to join an existing party or start his own. On the latter, he opined that it was too early to launch a new party before the next election, currently scheduled for 2019.
Over the past year, the freshly bearded Barak has become an outspoken critic of Netanyahu, with diatribes against the prime minister and his governing coalition, on Twitter, radio, and television.
Barak was the IDF’s longest-serving chief of staff and the country’s most decorated soldier, before becoming prime minister in 1999, after defeating Netanyahu in elections.
Following his defeat in 2001 to the late Ariel Sharon, Barak temporarily retired from politics, but returned to the Labor Party in 2005. From 2007 to 2013 he served as defense minister, the last four years under Netanyahu.
In 2011, he split from Labor, along with four other MKs, forming the short-lived Independence Party, in order to remain in Netanyahu’s coalition, despite the objection of most of Labor. The party was effectively disbanded upon Barak’s retirement from politics in 2013.