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Former Israeli PM Ehud Barak to form new party ahead of September elections

Barak is making a political comeback in an effort to oust Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's Likud Party
Ehud Barak previously served as defence minister under current Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu (AFP)

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak is returning to Israeli politics, as he announced plans to form a new coalition party in the hopes of ousting Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party from power in fresh elections in September.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Barak said he planned to establish a new coalition party alongside Israeli opposition leaders.

"These are the darkest days we have known," said Barak, as reported by Israeli daily Haaretz, adding that Netanyahu's regime includes "corrupt and messianic elements".

Netanyahu called a new vote last month when he failed to form a majority coalition after an election in April.

On Wednesday, Barak said the new election was meant to "disrupt the legal procedure" in the ongoing bribery cases Netanyahu faces.

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The Israeli prime minister's "time as a political leader is over", Barak added.

A former chief of the Israeli army and ex-chairman of Israel's now-struggling Labor Party, Barak retired from politics in 2013 after serving as prime minister for two years and as minister of defence for six years under Netanyahu.

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It remains unclear what political coalition Barak hopes to form ahead of the 17 September vote.

His coalition will be dependent on whether Itzik Shmuli and Nitzan Horowitz are elected as leaders of the Labor and Meretz parties, respectively, in primaries due to take in the next few days, Haaretz said.

Barak also called on his "brothers in arms" - Israeli opposition members Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid - to join forces.

Blue and White, the coalition Gantz and Lapid formed to compete in the April elections, won 35 out of 120 Knesset seats in that contest, tying Netanyahu's Likud.

But Netanyahu had the better chance to form a coalition to secure a majority in parliament.

"We came here today to comment on what is going on around us and announce the establishment of a new party," Barak, 77, said during the press conference, as reported by Reuters.

He did not say what it would be called, but hinted at a possible alliance with centrist and left-wing parties to defeat Likud, the news agency said.

The new platform, which will be formally established in the coming days, is expected to be based on Haatzmaut, a centre-left party Barak formed when he split from Labor in 2011, Haaretz also reported.

The Likud Party dismissed Barak's announcement on Wednesday, The Times of Israel reported.

"We dont get involved in how the left divides its seats between Ehud Barak and Lapid and Gantz," the party said.

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