Ron Huldai, the mayor of Tel Aviv-Jaffa for the last 22 years announced in December 2020 he was forming the Hayisralim (“The Israelis”) Party, which has been variously described as left-wing and center-left.
Launching his campaign, the longtime member of the declining Labor Party said, “We have grown accustomed to a crazy government. I will no longer stand idly by, I am here to announce a new party,”
Huldai said he was entering the race because “hundreds of thousands of Israelis feel they have no home in the current political system. We will raise their heads and give them back their hope.”
“We will not get used to a prime minister under indictments,” Huldai declared. “We will not get used to a constant threat to the system of law enforcement. I have decided that I can no longer stand on the sidelines.”
Huldai said the party’s principles include preserving the country’s Jewish majority, ensuring Israel’s security, building emergency rooms in the so-called periphery, and a broad coalition.
The Times of Israel reported Huldai said his party will safeguard democracy and the justice system, create socially-minded reforms, care for small businesses, for women’s and minorities’ rights, and oppose religious coercion and rampant violence in the Arab community. He opposes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposed annexation of parts of the West Bank and legislation to give the Knesset the power to override Supreme Court decisions.
Coming from secular Tel Aviv where he has fought restrictions the Orthodox want on activities on Shabbat, he said he would also oppose the effort of ultra-Orthodox parties to force the closure of mini-markets on Saturdays.
The new party was bolstered by the decision of Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn to leave Kahol Lavan to join Huldai.
According to Yossi Verter, “the new party could also push the dying remnants of Kahol Lavan below the electoral threshold.” He added that “logic dictates there’s room for only one left-wing party between Yesh Atid and the Joint List” and that the new party hopes “to swallow up the rest of the Labor Party.”
Huldai plans to remain mayor and to resign only if he receives a senior cabinet position in the next government.
Polls in January 2021 indicated the new party might not reach the electoral threshold to win seats in the Knesset and Nissenkorn unexpectedly announced he was taking “a break from political life.” Huldai subsequently dropped out of the race.
Sources: Raoul Wootliff, “Tel Aviv mayor to form new left-wing party to run in March elections,” Times of Israel, (December 28, 2020);
“Veteran Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai launches new center-left party, ‘The Israelis,’” Times of Israel, (December 29, 2020);
Jonathan Lis, “Tel Aviv Mayor Announces New Party Running in Upcoming Israeli Election,” Haaretz, (December 30, 2020);
Yossi Verter, “The Slow Fraying of Gantz’s Party Has Turned Into a Panicked Flight,” Haaretz, (December 30, 2020).