Former prime minister Ehud Barak, a strident critic of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is considering tossing his hat into the ring in the upcoming September elections, Channel 12 news reported Monday.
Barak, who was the last leader of Israel’s Labor Party to hold the country’s top office, reportedly sent out feelers to Labor Knesset members seeking their support for him to temporarily run the party for a year.
With other Labor members jostling to replace current party chairman Avi Gabbay, Barak is commissioning his own public opinion polls and will make a final decision based on the results, the report said. The embattled Labor party is set to hold a leadership primary in the coming months, ahead of the national vote.
It is not the first time Barak, 77, has considered a political comeback. The former army chief has tested the waters several times over the years and hinted last December that he would run if a center-left political bloc were formed, but ended up sitting out of the April elections.
Failing a return to Labor, Barak could run in the September 17 election if he submits the candidacy of his registered but dormant Atzmaut (Independence) Party, formed in 2011 when he and four colleagues bolted the Labor Party.
In the April ballot two months ago, Barak said he would vote for Labor since the party was “the only one that voices a clear political and social voice and has an impressive team.”
Labor was crushed in the April election, dropping from 24 seats to only six, the poorest showing in its history.
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 of which were under Netanyahu.
The 2011 split from Labor was short-lived with Atzmaut remaining in Netanyahu’s coalition government, despite the objection of most of Labor. The party was effectively disbanded upon Barak’s second retirement from politics in 2013.