Zionist Union party dissolves ahead of elections

The Zionist Union, a party which combined the Israeli Labor Party and the Hatnuah Party, has broken up ahead of elections.

By David Isaac, World Israel News 

The Zionist Union, a joint list of the Israeli Labor Party and the Hatnuah Party, has broken up ahead of Knesset elections scheduled for April 9.

Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay informed Tzipi Livni, leader and founder of Hatnuah and fellow leader with Gabbay of the Zionist Union, that he was dissolving the pact between the two factions.

“I had hoped and believed that the change [in party leadership] and our new partnership would lead to our growth, to a real connection,” said Gabbay. “But the public is wise, it sees that that isn’t the situation, and has moved away from us.”

The Labor Party, the dominant force in Israeli politics for the first 30 years of the state’s existence,  has fallen on hard times, Israel Hayom reported Monday, citing polls predicting the party will win only seven to eight Knesset seats. The Labor Party currently holds 19 seats. The combined Zionist Union holds 24 seats.

“The Labor Party has never been in such a difficult situation, there has never been such an atmosphere of gloom and helplessness in the face of the polls,” a high-ranking Knesset member from Labor told Israel Hayom.

In his announcement of the split-up of the Zionist Union Party, Gabbay said, “I still believe in partnership. I still believe in connections. I still believe in building a single big bloc creating change. But successful alliances require friendship, standing by agreements, and staying the course. This isn’t what has been happening in this partnership.”

Gabbay wished Livni, who was sitting in the room during the announcement, success in the coming elections.

Hours later, it became evident that Gabbay’s announcement came as a complete surprise to Livni. Livni criticized Gabbay afterwards in a separate press conference, saying “There was no partnership because he didn’t want a partnership. The way he finished it today testifies to that.”

Livni then criticized Gabbay for selfishness. “The order of priorities needs to be the state, the party and afterwards ‘me,'” she said. “What you heard from Gabbay today is what I heard from him during this whole period: ‘Me,’ ‘me,’ ‘me.'”

According to daily newspaper Haaretz, Gabbay was fed up with Livni for working to undermine him and her “endless search” for someone to replace him.

“Instead of conducting polls about how we can win, you’re conducting polls about how to beat me, how to push me aside,” he told her at a Knesset meeting, Haaretz reported. “You are weakening me and, indirectly, all of us.”