Kadima's Tzipi Livni has for two years proudly borne the empty title of opposition leader.
Aside from appearances in which she directed personal criticism at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ("he's preoccupied with surviving," "he's not telling the truth" ), Livni has not presented an alternative to the current government's policies, and has not worked to mobilize public support to replace the leadership.
The public sees her weakness, and the results are evident in polls in which Netanyahu has a comfortable lead. The weakness of the opposition is especially evident when compared to the behavior of the government, which provides almost daily opportunities for harsh criticism: neglecting the firefighting services before the Carmel fire, the lawyers' strike and the continuing erosion of the judicial system, anti-democratic legislation, repressive measures and incitement against Arab citizens, surrender to the ultra-Orthodox and the conversion laws, Israel's international isolation and the destruction of the foreign ministry under the leadership of Avigdor Lieberman.
And above all is Netanyahu's rejectionism and stubbornness in the diplomatic process, his refusal to discuss core issues with the Palestinians and the rejection of the American proposal for an additional freeze of settlement building in return for diplomatic guarantees.
On all these issues Livni should have presented a clear position and fought for it in the public forum.
She should have called on the government to say yes to U.S. President Barack Obama and safeguard democracy and civil rights.
But Livni has made do with remaining outside the government in the false hope that Netanyahu will soften, thus signaling that she expects to join the coalition under his leadership. More worrying was Livni's silence when Knesset members from her party supported racist legislative initiatives.
The failure of efforts to renew negotiations with the Palestinians should sound the alarm for the opposition.
Now is the time for it to wake up, show the public the danger posed by the Netanyahu government for Israel's future and present an alternative.
Livni will not gain from meetings with the U.S. secretary of state, like the one held over the weekend, but by convincing Israeli citizens that she can lead them.
The longer she continues as a weak opposition leader, the less she will look like a proper candidate for prime minister.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now