Netanyahu is Running for Likud’s Leadership, Premiership
Former Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced that he was presenting his candidacy for Likud leader again, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Netanyahu, who also said he would run for prime minister, made his announcement three hours after arriving home, according to the daily’s internet edition Sunday evening.
Netanyahu told a press conference in Jerusalem that Ehud Barak's decision to resign was probably "the most cynical trick in Israeli political history."
Barak's failure, he said, should have led him to step down completely.
Netanyahu said he was capable of returning Israelis' pride, security and confidence. He would provide the alternative to the Oslo process, he pledged.
Netanyahu said he would lead Israel to a "realistic" goal - "a cold peace" with its neighbors.
Under Israel's complex election law, Netanyahu, 51, cannot join the race for prime minister as it is only open to current members of the Knesset, or parliament -- which he quit after his crushing election defeat to Barak in May 1999.
But the self-assured Netanyahu, capitalizing on the widespread discontent with Barak's handling of weeks of deadly Israeli-Palestinian violence, said he was convinced there would be new legislative elections that would allow him to stand, said AFP.
"That is why I am today presenting my candidature for the leadership of Likud and the post of prime minister," he was quoted by the agency as saying.
The current Likud leader is Ariel Sharon, 72, who replaced Netanyahu when he quit politics following his defeat after three years in power marked by a freeze in the peace process with the Palestinians and bitter internal wrangling.
Netanyahu is streets ahead in opinion polls that show he would easily beat Sharon for the Likud leadership and win any rematch with Barak, whose 17-month-old government has been brought to its knees by the violence, according to the agency.
He attacked Barak's decision to resign as an "anti-democratic" move designed to "neutralize the will of the people," adding: "I think that if someone is scared of a fight, he has a good reason."
A political comeback by Netanyahu, who became Israel's youngest leader in 1996, had been on the cards since Attorney General Eliyakim Rubinstein said in September that he and his wife Sara would not be prosecuted for fraud or corruption.
The former first couple, never very far from controversy, had been under investigation for allegedly keeping gifts presented when Netanyahu was in office, in violation of Israeli law, and for promising a Jerusalem contractor he would be paid out of the public purse for private work.
"I have made errors, but I have learnt my lessons," Netanyahu said – (Several Sources)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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