Analysis: Livni's box of chocolates

Offering visitors chocolates was the closest Livni came to the political backslapping needed to succeed in most any democracy.

Tzipi Livni casts her Kadima primary vote in Tel Aviv 370 (photo credit: LAHAV HARKOV)
Tzipi Livni casts her Kadima primary vote in Tel Aviv 370
(photo credit: LAHAV HARKOV)
Movie character Forrest Gump popularized several expressions that remain part of public discourse 18 years after the movie came out.
Two of them could apply to former opposition leader Tzipi Livni, who quit the Knesset and at least temporarily left public life on Tuesday: “Just keep running,” and “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
Livni kept chocolates in her desk drawer at her offices in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. She shared them with visitors and munched on them when her busy schedule did not leave her time for regular meals.
Those chocolates were the closest she came to the political bribery and backslapping politicians often need to succeed in most any democracy.
On the one hand, Livni’s colleagues credited her for trying to remain above the fray. But on the other, they said her unwillingness to play the political game ended up hurting the constituents she purported to serve.
Politics is a profession that requires compromise in order to achieve goals for the greater good. There is a fine line between protecting one’s integrity and letting voters down.
The content of the negotiations Livni conducted with former Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qurei when she was foreign minister remain a secret. What compromises she made there are unknown, but based on speeches she has delivered, she was clearly willing to take steps that would have displaced tens of thousands of Jews from their homes in Judea and Samaria.
Had Livni also been willing to compromise with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, she could have entered his government and kept on negotiating with the Palestinians. Who knows what kind of agreement could have been reached? Perhaps she could also have enabled changes to the political system that could have ended the very political extortion she condemned so strongly in her resignation speech.
With matters of religion and state likely to play more of a role in the next election, it will be harder for Netanyahu, if he gets reelected, to justify bringing Shas into his next coalition.
Chances are, he would prefer to form a national-unity government with Kadima.
Such a government became more likely when Kadima members voted in MK Shaul Mofaz to replace Livni, who could not get along with Netanyahu. Ironically her very absence from politics could boost chances of advancing the peace process and other issues dear to her.
Livni left open the possibility of returning to politics. If Mofaz fares badly in the next general election, she might sweep back in and run again for the Kadima leadership.
In politics, as in life, every eventuality is theoretically possible.
You really don’t know what you’re gonna get. That is one of the things that drives politicians to keep going.
The advice that Gump’s mother gave him was to “just keep running.” Kadima’s founder, former prime minister Ariel Sharon, gave younger politicians similar advice, telling them to “keep your hands on the wheel until you get back on top.”
At least Livni will have plenty of time now to eat more nutritiously.