Livni rivals: She'll quit politics after election

As Tzipi Livni Party remains stuck at 10 seats in polls, opponents claim she won't honor commitments to voters.

Livni with pink background 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Baz Ratner)
Livni with pink background 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Baz Ratner)
Former foreign minister Tzipi Livni’s days in politics are numbered if her Tzipi Livni Party fails to obtain at least double-digit support in the January 22 general election, Livni’s opponents across the political spectrum said on Saturday.
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 premiership.
But the Smith research poll published in Friday’s Jerusalem Post 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 home.”
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.
Sources close 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 party.
“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 honor.”
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 incorrect.
“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 whites.”
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 style.
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 housing.