Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai said Saturday that he was considering running for the leadership of the Labor Party next year when primary elections will be held.
“I have received calls from many quarters, and people told me I need to take up the gauntlet,” Huldai said at a cultural event in Tel Aviv. “I am considering and weighing the issue.”
Huldai said it was a difficult decision and that he was “not going to take chances just for the hell of it.”
“In order to start anew, after 17 years as a mayor, I need to gather all my mental strength. I am at a stage when I am still examining it,” he said.
The long-serving municipal leader said that he would make his decision by autumn, so that if he does decide to run, he will have sufficient time to prepare a campaign before the May 2016 Labor party primaries.
Huldai ran for a Knesset seat with Labor in 1995 but failed to reach a realistic position on the party list. He was elected mayor in 1998, heading a list called Tel Aviv 1, which was sponsored by the Labor Party. He was reelected in 2003, 2008 and 2013, always under the Tel Aviv 1 ticket.
Prior to entering politics, Huldai was an Israel Air Force pilot and commander. He retired at the rank of brigadier-general.
As head of the city which in the recent elections gave the highest percentage of votes to the Zionist Union — Labor’s joint list with Tzipi Livni’s party Hatnua — Huldai has long been said to be toying with the idea of trying his hand at national politics.
After the March elections, he gave a lengthy interview to Channel 2 where he laid out his political beliefs, and gave his take on why the Zionist Union failed to win despite leading in the polls in the lead-up to Election Day.
On Saturday, he repeated his analysis, saying: “If Zionist Union wants to reach a reality where it can form a government, two things must be done: expanding the camp and establishing a federation (of the entire bloc) that puts one candidate for prime minister, like in the days of Alignment vs. Likud.” (Alignment is the party that preceded today’s Labor.)
Huldai did not elaborate, but may have been implying that the two-headed leadership of Isaac Herzog and Livni hurt Zionist Union’s showing at the ballot boxes.
Labor’s constitution mandates that the party hold primary elections within 14 months of losing a general election. Former Labor Party leader Shelly Yachimovich and former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin are likely to run against Herzog for the party leadership.
Since retiring from the internal security agency, Diskin has become a prolific writer on Facebook, voicing opinions on everything from the social justice movement in 2011 to the nuclear deal with Iran. He was reportedly approached before the recent elections by Labor with an offer to serve as the party’s token ex-security establishment official but refused.