Yisrael b'Aliyah to Campaign as Only Party for Immigrants

Yisrael b'Aliyah officially launched its campaign at a press conference yesterday in Tel Aviv with the slogan "Always at your side, always with you, always for you."

The party will promote itself as the only party focusing on new immigrants, following the merger of Yisrael Beiteinu in the right-wing National Union bloc and Roman Bronfman's integration in the Meretz list.

At the news conference yesterday, party leader Natan Sharansky emphasized that Yisrael b'Aliyah belongs to the "nationalist camp."

But in an effort to differentiate the party from Avigdor Lieberman's right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu faction, Sharansky said that most new immigrants align themselves with "center-right" views. He said he doubts these immigrants want "to be swept so far to the right."

Sharansky called on Lieberman "to return home to the Russian street." Lieberman made a similar call for Sharansky to join National Union on Tuesday when the right-wing bloc kicked off its campaign.

MK Yuli Edelstein targeted the Labor Party in his remarks at the campaign launch: "The immigrants will prefer to vote for a list comprised entirely of immigrants rather than a party that places tractor drivers higher than immigrants." (Edelstein was referring to the fact that Labor has reserved the 22nd slot for a new immigrant, far behind the places assigned for representatives of the kibbutz and moshav movements.)

Yisrael b'Aliyah's Knesset list will be elected next week by the 550 members of the party's central committee. Some 30 candidates will compete for 10 spots on the list. The four serving MKs are expected to be re-elected: Sharansky, Edelstein, Genady Riger and Marina Slotkin.

The party's executive director, Eli Kazhdan, who was born in Russia but grew up in the United States, is expected to take the fifth spot, which is reserved for an "Anglo" candidate.