Defense Minister Ehud Barak's deputy in the Atzamaut party, Shalom Simhon, warned at a press conference on Wednesday that if Israelis don't vote for the party they risk seeing Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman as the next defense minister.
Simhon, trade and Llbor minister and Atzmaut member, asked in the press conference: "Do we want to see [Avigdor] Lieberman as defense minister, or do we want Barak to continue? Look at how everyone is crashing and burning and there is only one person in Israel who can unite the system."
Earlier in the press conference, Barak called on the citizens of Israel to join the party "on the high road."
"We have come here, my peers and I, to tell you that Atzmaut, which I lead, will run in the next elections," he said. "We came here to disprove the rumor… that we are not running." He said that those rumors "serve certain people" who are apparently afraid of clear-headed "responsibility at the helm."
After months of speculation over whether party members would be guaranteed places on the Likud Knesset list, the party has stated that it seeks to run on a separate list, after a backlash from Likud MKS and party activists.
"We view the elections as important and critical," Barak added. "This is not a reality show episode; this is something that will determine our future." He said that during such a turbulent time, Israel needs a steady hand at the helm, "and my hand is such."
The latest polls show that the party has been able to reach the threshold which would allow it to compete in the elections. Atzmaut members are sure that after passing the threshold, its electoral base is sure to grow. The party will not hold elections, and it is believed that chairman Barak will have the final say on the party list.
In the press conference, Barak said that "we came here with no teleprompters, but with a record" – comments aimed at Yair Lapid's new political campaign. He said the Israelis should ask themselves "who is really blocking [the law allowing the Knesset to overturn a Supreme Court decision], who are the people that can guarantee the essence of Israel remains, who are the forces who are working toward essential and real change – and not just declarations and recitations."
Simhon referred to the low estimates of Atzmaut's electoral base, saying that "among the Druze, Circassian, kibbutzim and moshavim alone we will get four mandates, and that is before the votes in the cities."
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