Gaydamak to Hold First Meeting of New Political Party

Russian-Israeli tycoon to preside over inaugural Social Justice party meeting Thursday, no MK list will be presented.

Russian-Israeli businessman Arcadi Gaydamak is set to hold the first meeting of his new political party, called Social Justice, in Jerusalem on Thursday. A list of the party's Knesset candidates will not be presented at the meeting.

Gaydamak decided to launch the party now due to political changes that signal the possibility of early elections. Even if Gaydamak does not plan to run for Knesset himself, he wants the main contenders for prime minister - Labor's Ehud Barak and the Likud's Benjamin Netanyahu - to depend on him for support.

Gaydamak's associates said Tuesday that despite his previous expressions of support for Netanyahu, Gaydamak is not ruling out backing Barak. Indeed, Netanyahu has been trying to prevent the party's launch because it is expected to draw voters away from the Likud.

After failing to get Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman to resign from the government, Gaydamak decided to set himself up as a key player in the political arena, with the intention of either leading an independent party or merging with another party.

Gaydamak decided to go into politics at least five months ago, as Haaretz reported at the time, but has refrained until now from formally announcing the establishment of a political party. Instead, he founded a movement called Social Justice, which is now turning into the party of the same name. After Thursday's meeting, Gaydamak is expected to register his party as a non-profit organization and pay especially close attention to the public's reaction.

David Narodetsky, the party's legal adviser, said Social Justice has already formulated its goals - all of them socially oriented - but has yet to finalize its platform, which he said will not deal with political-security issues.