Israeli-Russian billionaire to form own party

Tuesday, February 20, 2007 |  by Staff Writer
Russian-Israeli billionaire businessman Arcadi Gaydamak hopes to form an alliance with Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu and establish his own political party, focusing on socio-economic issues.

According to various polls in recent weeks, Gaydamak has a chance to win 25 seats. According to news reports, Gaydamak's political party would eventually merge with the Likud, making Netanyahu the prime minister.

Gaydamak aides said the party would focus on increasing taxes on high earners and strengthening the welfare system.

The Netanyahu-Gaydamak alliance blossomed after Gaydamak voiced political backing for Netanyahu, praising the former prime minister as the fittest candidate to run the country.

Gaydamak has a strong following among the Russian speaking population in Israel, but is not limiting his campaign. He hopes to also draw in votes from among the Israel-Arabs, Bedouin, Druze and ultra-Orthodox sectors.

The new party could put pressure on Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman, chairman of Israel Our Home, who also garners much support from Russian immigrants, but is not as popular as Gaydamak, according to a recent poll.

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