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Gaydamak enters politics

by: Attila Somfalvi, - Last updated: 2007-02-20

Arcadi Gaydamak

Arcadi Gaydamak

Russian-Israeli business tycoon Arcadi Gaydamak intends to launch a new political party in Israel as opinion polls show that the billionaire is popular among the Israeli electorate.

Privately-commissioned opinion polls have shown that should Gaydamak found a new party, he would win 25 seats in the Knesset. Aides said the party would be launched at a news conference in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

The billionaire businessman's venture into politics has been closely coordinated with Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu, Haaretz reported on Tuesday.

The party's ideological mantra would focus on socio-economic issues, the paper said, and Gaydamak would bank on his popularity among immigrants from the former Soviet Union to secure success at the polls.

Gaydamak had recently voiced political backing for Netanyahu, praising the former prime minister as the fittest candidate to run the country.

Netanyahu returned the favour by attending a hyped Hanukkah party organized by Gaydamak in December.

The newspaper reported that Gaydamak's political party would eventually merge with the Likud.

Gaydamak aides said the party would steer clear of the traditional security-political platform to focus instead on advancing increased taxations for high earners and strengthening the welfare system.

Gaydamak himself would not run for a legislative seat but would rather run the party's affairs as its chairman.

Reproduced with permission: Ynet