Livni with pink background 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Baz Ratner)
Former foreign minister Tzipi Livni’s responded to her opponents across the political spectrum on Sunday after rivals said she would not stay if her Tzipi
Livni Party fails to obtain at least double-digit support in the January 22
Asked on Army Radio Sunday morning whether she would leave politics if she fared poorly, Livni said those who say otherwise were scared by her political comeback.
"I returned with a deep understanding that I may have to pay a personal price of starting from a different [lower] level but I have to keep struggling," she said. "I came back to fight and I will do it from any place, from the Knesset or the cabinet."
Livni returned to politics with great fanfare at a November 27
Tel Aviv press conference.
She hoped to immediately destroy Yair Lapid’s
fledgling Yesh Atid Party and Meretz, then take half of Labor’s support before
taking a serious chunk of votes from traditional Likud voters in the periphery
and challenging Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for the
But the Smith research poll published in Friday’s Jerusalem
found that one month after its establishment, The Tzipi Livni Party was
stuck on 10 Knesset seats, the same number as Yesh Atid. A Dahaf Institute poll
in Yediot Aharonot gave the party 11 mandates and a Ma’agar Mohot survey in
Ma’ariv predicted only nine.
“Livni will not stay,” Lapid said at a
cultural event in Rishon Lezion on Saturday. “Her plan to present an alternative
collapsed and disintegrated into dust. She won’t stay in the Knesset at the helm
of an opposition faction of eight seats as deputy chairwoman of the State
Control Committee. Instead she will do what she did before: Go
Senior Likud officials made the same prediction last week after
Netanyahu ruled out giving Livni a portfolio that would enable her to negotiate
with the Palestinians. They said they believed it would be easier to bring
Livni’s party into the coalition after she quit politics.
to Livni in her party called the charges political spin and said that when she
returned to politics she took into consideration that she might head a small
“Tzipi came back to play a big role in this election,” a source
close to her said. “She has not given up on playing a part in the Knesset and
the government and even forming the next coalition. She knew what she was
getting into when she decided to come back and she is not going anywhere.”
But Kadima officials said Livni had already proven that she does not accept the
rules of democracy when she quit politics following her loss in the Kadima
leadership race last March.
“She refused during that race to say she
would stay in Kadima if she lost,” a Kadima official said. “Now she must tell
the public what she will do when she loses the general election, rather than
send people to make commitments in her name that she will not
Lapid promised that his party would stick together no matter how
it fared in the election and whether or not it joined the coalition. He said the
conventional wisdom that Yesh Atid would join any coalition was
“We will not be a decoration in the government,” Lapid said.
“We will not sit in a government that will not equalize the burden of service
and solve the housing crisis. Yesh Atid will demand steps to lower the cost of
living and the return of education to the top of the country’s priorities, and
if not, we will go to the opposition and fight from there.”
In an attack
on Livni and Kadima, Lapid added, “The opposition does not have to be feeble as
it was in the outgoing Knesset.”
In an interview with Channel 2’s Nissim
Mishal late on Thursday, Lapid refused to rule out joining a coalition with
Shas. But he did say that it would be immoral for Shas’s co-chairman Arye Deri
to be a minister due to his bribery conviction.
Deri apologized on Friday
for ethnically charged comments he made a day earlier, in which he called Likud
Beytenu a party of “Russians and whites.”
Speaking to Army Radio, Deri
said, “I apologize fully. It was a grave mistake, this comment on Russians and
He added that he made the comments under pressure, and that he
had never spoken about his “brothers” in such a way because it is not his
With his Thursday comments, Deri seemed to embark on a full-scale
ethnic campaign, accusing the joint Likud-Yisrael Beytenu list of discriminating
against Sephardim and contributing to the secularization of the state. The
comments came in reaction to statements by Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor
Liberman insulting Shas’s Ariel Attias, who is minister of construction and