Livni move may leave Knesset without Ethiopian MK

General from Meretz joins as Mofaz retires.

Former justice minister Tzipi Livni attends a session of parliament (photo credit: REUTERS)
Former justice minister Tzipi Livni attends a session of parliament
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hatnua head Tzipi Livni decided not to give her final slot on her party’s joint list with Labor to her longtime confidant, former Kadima MK Shlomo Molla, on Tuesday, leaving the next Knesset likely to have no Ethiopian-born MK.
Livni had one slot remaining after giving slots reserved for Hatnua to MK Amir Peretz, former Kadima MK Yoel Hasson, Russian- language journalist Ksenia Svetlova, and environmentalist Yael Cohen Paran.
She was expected to give the slot to Molla, who together with Hasson helped her build Hatnua and were the MKs most loyal to her for many years. But after she faced criticism that there was no former IDF general on the Labor-Hatnua list, Livni gave the final slot to Maj.-Gen. (res.) Eyal Ben-Reuven, who quit Meretz on Sunday.
“I didn’t think I would get on the list, because I knew who I was dealing with,” Molla said of his longtime political patron. “I would have been happy to join if I were offered. It is sad that there probably won’t be an Ethiopian immigrant representative in the next Knesset. Parties in Israel have made clear that they think they don’t need Ethiopians.”
Livni responded to criticism of the decision by saying, “We will fight for all sectors, including Ethiopian immigrants, and we wish we had more slots available for those the people respect, like Molla.”
Molla praised Koolanu leader Moshe Kahlon for trying to place journalist Tsega Melaku on his list.
But she was disqualified for not quitting her government job in time.
The Likud placed an Ethiopian candidate 27th on its list, which polls say will win 25 seats. Yesh Atid MK Pnina Tamnu-Shata was placed 13th, but polls say the party may win only nine mandates.
Livni said Ben-Reuven, who serves as a reserve deputy commander in the Northern Command, would constitute “a meaningful addition to our defense team. He took part in Israel’s wars and in battles for the security of Israel’s citizens.”
With the announcement that he was joining Labor-Hatnua, Ben-Reuven said, “Israel’s citizens deserve more than a leadership that deals solely in scare tactics. They deserve a leadership that acts to strengthen security.”
Meanwhile, Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz, a former defense minister and chief of General Staff, was rejected by Labor leader Isaac Herzog last week. He announced Tuesday that he will not run for the next Knesset.
Herzog decided that instead, MK Omer Bar-Lev would be Labor’s security figure and former Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin its candidate for defense minister, if Herzog forms a government and keeps the portfolio.
“I will honestly admit that I am not an excellent politician,” Mofaz said in a statement. “Politics is not what I try to excel in, but the people of Israel have a storied history of leaders, and people who get things done, and I prefer to be counted among them.”
Mofaz’s Kadima may end up running together with another party. Channel 1 reported that Kadima was in negotiations with Koolanu about receiving a slot that would go to former Kadima MK Akram Hasson, who is Druse.
Daniel Clinton contributed to this report.