MK Elazar Stern announced on Saturday night that he is leaving Hatnuah, citing leader Tzipi Livni’s recent decision to run on a joint election slate with Labor.
In a letter to Livni, Stern criticized the rotation agreement, in which Labor leader Isaac Herzog will serve as prime minister for the first two years, and Livni the second two (if the parties succeed in forming a coalition government). Livni “paid too heavy a price for the rotation,” wrote Stern.
Stern met with Livni on Thursday and presented her with his reservations over the Labor deal. The meeting only strengthened his impression that he no longer belonged in the party and the new slate, he said.
Stern doesn’t know if he will join a different faction. “Returning to civilian life is also a reasonable and respectable possibility for me, allowing me to contribute to the country in matters in which I believe,” he wrote. Stern is a former general and served as head of the Israel Defense Forces’ manpower directorate.
Stern said he spent a long time agonizing over his decision. After the Knesset called for new elections, Stern and fellow Hatnuah MK David Tsur considered forming a new party. They even received legal approval to do so, but in the end decided not to.
“I respect Stern’s decision to leave,” said Livni on Saturday. “Stern is a man of values, and during our joint tenure we advanced open and welcoming Judaism together. I am sure he will be able to contribute to the State of Israel in any place he is, and I wish him success with all my heart.”
Livni and Herzog agreed that Hatnuah will receive six seats within the first 25 on the joint slate.
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