Tzipi Livni (L) and Avi Gabbay.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The battle between the two parties that made up the Zionist Union intensified on Tuesday, when Hatnua head Tzipi Livni accused Labor of no longer focusing on the peace process and Labor criticized her for neglecting socioeconomic issues.
Livni reacted to reports that Labor leader Avi Gabbay had decided that his party’s campaign would be mostly based on its views about helping the poor in Israel instead of on overtures to the Palestinians. KAN Radio ran a tape of Livni condemning the decision in a closed-door meeting with her supporters.
“I woke up to reports that Gabbay had decided to lower the diplomatic banner, because what Tzipi Livni talks about is not interesting,” she said on the tape. “Whoever lowers the diplomatic banner concedes the flag of Israel with its Star of David and its Jewish majority. It cannot be that people will fear bringing up the issue due to concerns of what people will say: that people will call them leftists, which has become a slur.”
Livni revealed that in her first meeting with Gabbay after he won the July 2017 Labor race, he had already told her that he did not believe diplomatic issues should be emphasized. She said that in 2013, under then-leader Shelly Yacimovich
, Labor also made the mistake of abandoning diplomatic issues, but when she ran with Labor in the Zionist Union two years later, highlighting the diplomatic issue helped the list win 24 seats.
“I see it as shameful that a party decides to lower the banner out of worries of what [Prime Minister Benjamin] Bibi [Netanyahu] will say and call you,” Livni said, warning Labor “not to become a second Kulanu or Gesher,” the new socioeconomically-focused party of MK Orly Levy-Abecassis.
Labor responded by bashing Livni and questioning her priorities.
“It is a source of great pride that we have been accused of emphasizing the struggle for the middle-class and working families,” a Labor spokesman said. “Those who are indifferent to the problems of the middle class and the high cost of living in Israel are unworthy of being public servants.”
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