Livni demands opposition chairmanship, threatens to break up Zionist Union

“The chairmanship of the opposition is necessary for our partnership to continue,” Livni said clearly, to stunned looks of Zionist Union MKs.

June 25, 2018 14:55
1 minute read.
MK Tzipi Livni participates in a debate in Knesset June 25, 2018

MK Tzipi Livni participates in a debate in Knesset June 25, 2018. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)


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Former foreign minister Tzipi Livni issued an ultimatum before the cameras at Monday’s Zionist Union faction meeting, demanding that she replace Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog as head of the opposition in the Knesset.

“The chairmanship of the opposition is necessary for our partnership to continue,” Livni said clearly, to the stunned looks of Zionist Union MKs.

The Zionist Union faction was formed after Herzog’s Labor Party ran together with Livni’s Hatnua Party in the 2015 election, winning 24 seats. Relations have deteriorated between Labor and Hatnua since last July, when Avi Gabbay replaced Herzog as head of Labor and the Zionist Union.

Because he is not an MK, Gabbay cannot serve as opposition leader, so he allowed Herzog to keep the job.

Following his election, Gabbay canceled the voting for posts in the Knesset that were held in the faction and made it clear that he would select MKs for the positions himself. He is rumored to favor MK Shelly Yacimovich to head the opposition.

Gabbay refused to answer reporters’ questions about the opposition chairmanship before and after Livni made her statement. He also declined to comment when The Jerusalem Post asked if he would take into account diplomatic experience of the opposition leader, who by protocol meets with visiting heads of state.

But a Labor MK said that even if Livni is the most qualified candidate to head the opposition, before she is given the post by Gabbay, she must make a long-term commitment to him that the Zionist Union partnership will remain for the next election. Livni has demanded in the past that Hatnua be allowed multiple reserved slots on the list, while Gabbay is only interested in reserving one slot for her.

Another Labor MK said Gabbay would not take Livni’s threats seriously and that “her gun is empty of bullets.”

Yacimovich wrote on Twitter that being the “opposition leader is an important job that several people are fit to fill, and the decision on who should receive the post should be decided not by media campaigns but by who could best strengthen a fighting opposition.”

The Knesset leaves for its extended summer recess July 18 and Herzog doesn’t become Jewish Agency chairman until August 1, so there is still time to select his replacement.

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