Former Shin Bet Head Jacob Perry to Join Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid Party

Current chair of board of directors of Bank Mizrahi-Tfahot, who will announce he will be stepping down after entering the position in 2003, will serve as Lapid's number two.

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Yair Lapid announce a new addition to his party, Yesh Atid, on Tuesday: Former Shin Bet head Jacob Perry.

At a press conference Lapid said that Perry would join the leadership ranks of the party, although it was still not clear exactly where. Sources have indicated, however, that Perry would assume the number two position under Lapid himself.

"Jacob Perry is a significant force who is joining the party because he believes, like me, that we should replace the old political system, in which the politicians only take care of themselves instead of taking care of the country," Lapid told reporters on Tuesday.

"This is a person who is bringing us a lot of force, intelligence and experience. I am happy and proud that someone like Perry who has been offered some of the highest positions in the state of Israel, has chosen to leave a successful career. This is the new politics that I have been talking about from day one," he added.

At the press conference, Perry also spoke about the need to change the system of government. "I feel that something that many citizens certainly feel, that something fundamental, something basic does not work here, and the system, not just the system of government, but the way in which our lives are run here, has to change," he said.

Perry, who headed the Shin Bet security service from 1988 to 1995, currently serves as the chair of the board of directors of Bank Mizrahi-Tfahot, and would step down from his position in favor of joining Lapid's party.

The former security chief joined Bank Mizrahi-Tfahot in 2003, following eight years of serving as the chief officer of Cellcom, the telecom company.

Perry's entrance into politics comes amid rumors concerning other possible members of Lapid's Yesh Atid party, including journalist Ofer Shelah and Herzliya mayor Yael German, among others.

Lapid has in the past said that he would not mind being a minister in Netanyahu's government. Perry, however, refused to answer this question on Tuesday, saying it was still early days.

In January 2011 Perry joined Kadima, in light of his support of Tzipi Livni, and was a member of the party until Monday. Asked about the possibility of collaboration between Yesh Atid and Kadima, Perry said, "It is too early to say. Tzipi Livni like other politicians are worthy people [sic] and, like I said, it is not my intention to discredit or attack. The list will be a list that does not come from politics, but from various fields, and their contribution can be moral, no less than the contribution of those who are already in politics."

Israel's election season opened in earnest on Monday, after lawmakers voted to dissolve the Knesset, with early elections to be held on January 22, 2013. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced early elections last week, months ahead of time, because the Knesset could not agree on a new a budget for next year.

In a speech ahead of the vote, Netanyahu listed his accomplishments and said that the Iranian threat must be taken seriously by any future leader of Israel.

“In less than 100 days the people of Israel will decide who will lead them in the face of the greatest security challenges we have known since the state was established,” Netanyahu said, adding that he believes it is “appropriate” for the prime minister to seek a renewed mandate from the public.

Jacob Perry at the Herzliya Conference, August 2, 2011.Credit: David Bachar

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