Tuesday 22 January 2019

Opposition leader gets ditched on TV in Israel

Political drama: Israel's former foreign minister Tzipi Livn. Photo: REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
Political drama: Israel's former foreign minister Tzipi Livn. Photo: REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Loveday Morris

The new year did not start well for veteran Israeli leftist politician Tzipi Livni, who was publicly ditched by her opposition partner on television yesterday, as Israel's political drama ramps up ahead of elections.

Ms Livni, formerly Israel's foreign minister, sat stony faced and silent next to Avi Gabbay, leader of the left-leaning Zionist Union, as he announced the move in a news conference in the Knesset, Israel's parliament.

Mr Gabbay's Labour Party and Ms Livni's Hatnua party have been in an alliance since 2014.

"I hoped and believed this alliance would bring about our blossoming," Mr Gabbay said. "But the public is smart, saw this is not the situation and distanced itself from us.

"Tzipi, I wish you success in the election, in any party you are in," he said to gasps from the room.

Ms Livni takes over the microphone to say she will not respond before leaving the room.

The move came as Israel prepares for early elections, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition last month announced would take place in April. The polls predict another win for the incumbent leader's party, despite Mr Netanyahu being investigated in three corruption cases and the police recommending that he be indicted.

As Mr Gabbay pointed out in his speech, support for the opposition Zionist Union has slipped away, with polls showing it doing poorly in elections, winning as few as eight seats compared to the 24 it currently holds. His decision to so publicly split with Ms Livni, in a move she later said was a surprise, sets the tone for an ugly election fight.

Later explaining his decision, Mr Gabbay said that Ms Livni "didn't have a good word to say about me", the Israeli press reported, using a turn of phrase comparing his action to eating excrement.

When later asked about his comments in a news conference, Ms Livni responded: "I didn't look at his plate. I don't know what he ate."

At a news conference later in the day, Ms Livni said she would continue to lead Hatnua into the election, although the party has just five MPs in the 120-member parliament, compared with Labour's 19 and Likud's 30.

"What is more important than Labour parting ways with Hatnua is to leave the path on which this government is leading us, so we will be able to separate from the Palestinians," she said, referring to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Zionist Union bloc has lagged behind Likud in recent polling, where it was predicted to capture only eight to nine seats, compared with the 24 it holds in the current parliament.

(© Washington Post)

Irish Independent

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