By: Tal Schneider
Outgoing Justice Minister Tzippi Livni that was fired by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu under blames of lack of loyalty and attempted putsch, will be part of the list of the Labor Party to the 20th Knesset. Isaac Herzog and Livni appeared tonight at the first joint press conference.
Livni was raised as a Beitar supporter and began her political career in 1996 when she ran at the Likud primaries (she didn’t enter in the first round). Then, she became a senior Knesset Member, and a minister in the first Sharon government. She left with Sharon to Kadima, reduced the party to 28 seats, and although she led the largest party in the 18th Knesset she failed to form a government. Netanyahu, with 27 seats, managed to establish one of the most stable governments Israel has known for decades.
Livni completed a term as the head of the opposition, was relatively weak, and suffered much criticism, from her faction as well as others, claiming she was dysfunctional (at the opposition). In 2012, she lost her position as Kadima’s leader to Shaul Mofaz, retired for a few months and returned by the end of 2012 with Hatnua. To the 19th Knesset she entered with nothing but six seats. Kadima was left behind, bleeding and with a financial deficit of tens of millions NIS.
Today – in her biggest leap to the left – she integrates with the Labor Party, apparently without becoming a full party member.
Some members of the Labor Party are uncomfortable with the joining of the capitalist, the leader of privatization (when she led the Government Companies), to a party that presents itself today as the most social in the Knesset. However, over the last decade she almost didn’t touch the socio-economical issues, and her campaigns and political practice were focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In this context, she fits the Labor like a glove, because, unlike all the Labor leaders, she has the long hours in the negotiations room.
Polls from the last week showed that the combination between Herzog and Livni gives the Labor a rise to more than 20 seats. For Livni, it’s clearly a lifesaver. She probably would not have entered the 20th Knesset without the Labor.
Meanwhile, Herzog needs to create a little more massive momentum if he wants to become a viable alternative in the public eye. Only if the other factions leaders say they will join him before or after the elections, and prominent figures in the Israeli public sphere say they’ll vote for him, Israel will finally see a fight of two heads, instead of a campaign with a predictable results.
Addition: I was caught in traffic on my way to the press conference when Herzog & Livni already presented their agreement to switch Prime-Minister job after 2 years in office. Herzog will take seat first. An unprecedented move by Herzog.
Translated by: Noa Raz Zehavi