Leading Economist Zelekha Announces New Party, Vows to Save Israel From Financial Ruin

Prof. Yaron Zelekha, one of the country's leading economists, has been an outspoken opponent of government corruption, and a vocal member of the protests against Netanyahu

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Zelekha announces his new party in Tel Aviv, December 30, 2020.
Zelekha announces his new party in Tel Aviv, December 30, 2020.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg

Prof. Yaron Zelekha, Israel's former accountant general and a top economist, announced Wednesday that he will form a new political party, The Economic Party, to run in Israel's March election, the country's fourth in under two years.

Zelekha is aiming for the position of finance minister: "Everyone wants to be prime minister now, and I want to be your finance minister. I have the knowledge, the ability, the will to lead the State of Israel to growth and prosperity," he said.    

"I stand before you, asking for your trust. I declare the establishment of a new party, which will be called The Economic Party, which has a single goal: to save the State of Israel from economic ruin and to lead it, as finance minister, to a new period of prosperity and growth," Zelekha said.

Zelekha said that he would join anyone's government, so long as they are not "allegedly" corrupt.

"The divide between what is happening here and what is supposed to happen is derived from one place: a confused, weak economic leadership that is influenced by outside interests, and we must change that now," Zelekha said.

Zelekha served as the accountant-general of Israel from 2003 until 2007, under then-Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. During his term, he was fiercely critical of Israel's economic policies.

After his resignation, he launched a crusade against corruption and crony capitalism, running a YouTube channel and making frequent media appearances to discuss these issues through an economic lens.

He is also a vocal figure in the protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which demand that the premier step down in light of his indictments for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three criminal cases. 

Over the past year, Zelekha has leveled criticism against the government, which has not had a national budget, and against the decisions it has made regarding the coronavirus crisis. Among these are the lack of an organized policy and putting workers on unpaid leave, decisions he believes badly hurt small and medium-sized businesses and have quickly led Israel's descent into economic ruin.

He has published five books about economics, and is currently the director of accountancy studies at the Ono Academic College.    

According to the party, a poll it conducted shows that Zelekha is seen as the most worthy candidate for the position of finance minister. It also shows that about 70 percent of Israelis see the economic and social crisis as the most important issues that the government is grappling with.   

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