Tzipi Livni pulls out of Knesset race in tearful farewell

The former foreign minister was left without a realistic home in the upcoming Knesset election.

By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News

Former foreign minister Tzipi Livni announced that she is quitting politics in a press conference on Monday afternoon.

Her dramatic downfall started on the first day of 2019 when Labor Party chairman Avi Gabbay announced in a live broadcast with Livni at his side, but apparently without her knowledge, that he was breaking up the political alliance between his Labor party and her Hatnua party. He then removed her from the post of opposition leader.

With tears and in a trembling voice, Livni said on Monday, “I am asking forgiveness from every man and woman who wrote to me and messaged me. I am still strong and believe that our path is the right one for Israel. Continue to believe in the path and to  demand a clear position from the politicians. Today I stop the movement’s struggle with the knowledge that I have done all I can for my beloved country.”

Livni had been a leading voice in calling for a united center-left alliance in the Knesset election scheduled for April 9th to challenge incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

However, what started as a plan that she hoped would include her involvement has been commandeered by former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz in a joint effort with another former military chief, Moshe Yaalon. They are said to be in talks with another politician who views himself as a prime ministerial contender, Yair Lapid, to form a joint list in the April ballot.

Livni’s name had not come up in these discussions, certainly not in any major way.

She was left with her Hatnua party, which has existed in the Knesset as an independent party in the past but which is not seen in current public opinion polls as getting enough votes in the upcoming election to enter parliament.

Livni associates say that she is pulling out because she is looking out for the good of the center-left and doesn’t want to waste votes that would ultimately serve the purposes of Netanyahu and the right.

Livni, 60, grew up in the right-wing world. She began her Knesset career in the Likud, serving from 1999 to 2005. When Prime Minister Ariel Sharon bolted the party in 2005 and formed Kadima, Livni went with him.

She held her most senior post, foreign minister, from 2006 to 2009.

The post of prime minister was in her grasp after the 2009 election, when as Kadima leader, she had earned one seat more than the Likud, becoming the largest faction in the Knesset. However, Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu was able to gain the support of a majority of parliament, and he returned to the Prime Minister’s Office, after an initial term in the 1990’s, where he remains to this day, after again forming governments in 2013 and 2015.