Tzipi Livni Considering Political Comeback, but Only if Barak and Labor Join Forces

Ehud Barak meanwhile says he hasn’t ruled out joining forces with Labor and is willing to be second on a joint slate

Tzipi Livni announces she will not run in the April election, Tel Aviv, February 18, 2019.
Moti Milrod

Former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is considering returning to politics and running as part of a left-wing bloc, but only if a joint ticket is formed between the Labor Party and Ehud Barak’s new Democratic Israel Party.

Livni’s Hatnuah party ran on a joint ticket with Labor in 2015, but the former chief of the party, Avi Gabbay, abandoned the partnership in the run-up to April’s election. Livni decided not to run at all, saying she didn’t want to risk splitting the left-wing vote among so many parties that some would fail to cross the electoral threshold, resulting in their votes being wasted.

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With another election being held in September, she has already received offers to be part of a joint ticket from both Barak and Labor’s new chairman, Amir Peretz, but Livni has rejected both of them.

Aside from the electoral advantages that a joint ticket with Livni might bring, her party has millions of shekels in its coffers, whereas Labor and Democratic Israel are both short on funds. Thus gaining access to Hatnuah’s money could inject life into their campaigns.

For now, however, Livni isn’t planning to return to politics unless Labor and Democratic Israel form a joint ticket, thereby creating a large left-wing bloc with a reasonable chance of winning a double-digit number of Knesset seats and gaining real influence within the next Knesset.

So far, Barak and Peretz haven’t held any serious talks about such a union. But on Monday, Barak said he hasn’t ruled out joining forces with the Labor Party, and would be willing to be second on the slate after Labor Chairman Amir Peretz. 

“I don’t insist on being first,” Barak told Israeli 90FM radio, “the only thing that should be a deciding factor is what’s better for the system.” Barak also said he wouldn’t set any preconditions for such move.

The deadline for finalizing party tickets is August 1.

Essentially, Livni is trying to reprise what former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi did prior to April’s election, when he announced that he wouldn’t enter politics unless Benny Gantz’s Hosen L’Yisrael party formed a joint ticket with Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid. That joint ticket was ultimately formed.