Likud’s David Levy Enters Race for Next Prime Minister

In a widely anticipated move, Likud Knesset member and former Foreign Minister David Levy has announced that he was founding a new political movement and would run for prime minister in the country’s 1996 elections.

But he stopped short of declaring the formation of a new political party.

In a meeting Monday with Moshe Katsav, the leader of the Likud faction, Levy stressed that he still belonged to the party’s parliamentary faction and would vote with it.

Katsav said he was glad that Levy wanted to remain in the Likud opposition, but added that he would have to check the legal implications of Levy’s decision to form a new movement.

At a rally of some 4,000 supporters in Givatayim on Sunday night, Levy announced that he was setting up a ” new political framework, a new movement that would organize into a party.”

The 57-year-old Levy, who draws strong support at the municipal level, particularly in development towns in the Galilee and Negev, said the new movement would focus on social and economic issues.

He also lashed out at the Rabin government for what he called its “so-called peace policy.”

He placed himself in the political center, saying he would “not be dragged to extremes which imperil national unity.”

Levy’s move was expected after he sharply attacked electoral procedures that were proposed by Likud leader and Levy archrival Benjamin Netanyahu.

Levy said the proposals, which were adopted earlier this month, were biased against his supporters.

Although Levy’s new movement is expected to siphon off support from Likud, it is unclear how Levy’s decision would play out in the country’s national elections in November 1996.

Political observes, believe that a Levy candidacy could improve Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s chances in the elections by splitting the right-wing vote.

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