(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat will not run for the next Knesset, she told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday evening.
Livnat has been an MK for 22 years, and a minister for 13 years.
“I am satisfied with my accomplishments in my political career and I want to go in a different direction,” she said.
Livnat said she made the decision months ago and talked about it with Netanyahu then. She said she would complete important reforms in her ministry before leaving.
The culture minister began her political career in 1977 when she headed the Likud Youth organization when the party took power for the first time under Menachem Begin.
She has served as education minister and communications minister, as well as in her current role.
Livnat was the top woman in the Likud for many years, but in last year’s primary, MKs Tzipi Hotovely and Miri Regev got more votes.
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Two weeks ago, she blasted the Likud for moving too far to the Right. She was the only Likud minister who did not vote for coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin’s controversial “Jewish state” bill.
“There are those in the Likud who are much more right-wing than the party’s traditional values,” Livnat told Army Radio. “The Likud was always a right-center party and that’s what it needs to be. Unfortunately, there are people in the Likud who are not moderate and are pushing the party to places I don’t want to see it.”
She has a history of sparring with hawks in the Likud. She has told The Jerusalem Post in the past that allies of MK Moshe Feiglin were “not Likudniks” and should be prevented from taking over the party.
Two Likud MKs mocked the veteran minister two weeks ago, saying that Livnat “was just trying to pretend she’s still relevant.”
Netanyahu expressed regret over Livnat’s departure.
“Limor made a significant contribution to Israel in a variety of roles,” he said. “I’m sure she will continue to contribute, using her many skills, to the State of Israel.”
The Labor Party released a statement saying that Livnat realized what former ministers Gideon Sa’ar and Moshe Kahlon did before her – that the Likud had gone so far to the extreme Right that she could not serve the party anymore.
“She is jumping off the sinking Likud ship just at the right time,” Labor said.
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