Tzipi Livni Quits Politics as Polls Show Plummeting Support

The former justice and foreign minister says her party won't run in upcoming election: 'I am leaving politics but I will not allow the hope for peace to leave Israel'

Tzipi Livni, February 18, 2019
Moti Milrod

Lawmaker Tzipi Livni announced Monday she is retiring from politics and that her party, Hatnuah, won't run in the April 9 election in order to prevent the center-left bloc from losing votes.

"Recent years have been particularly difficult for me," Livni said in a press conference Monday, adding she has operated her entire political career according to a belief that "separating from the Palestinians is crucial in order to preserve the State of Israel."

Livni said that recently, the word peace has become a vulgarity in Israel and that she has had to pay a price for her beliefs.

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"I am leaving politics but I will not allow the hope for peace to leave Israel," she said. "I have the internal strength to continue fighting but we don't have enough political power to actualize our vision on our own," she added.

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Opinion polls currently show that Hatnuah would fall short of the minimum 3.25 percent threshold required for Knesset representation if it runs on its own. In case her party doesn't pass the electoral threshold, the votes would be lost. 

"I won't forgive myself if the votes of the believers [in my path] will go to waste," she explained.

"We are not a righteous minority, we are the majority, even if some are silent," she said. "Demand a clear stance from politicians, don't tell yourself this is politics. You can change it," she told her voters.

Livni is a former foreign minister and justice minister who had been a member of Likud and headed the now-defunct Kadima party. In the 2015 election, Livni’s party ran as part of the Zionist Union on a joint slate with the Labor Party. In early January, however, Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay took the surprise move of putting an end to the joint slate.

Livni has attempted to align herself with other parties ahead of the upcoming election but no party signaled an interest in joining forces. 

In response, Labor MK Stav Shaffir said that it is in the right's interest to take down brave women like Livni. Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich said Livni took a "brave and decent step" and that Israeli politics was "losing a worthy and meaningful person."

Labor MK Amir Peretz called Livni's retirement a "loss to the democratic camp in Israel." Labor MK Eitan Cabel added that Livni "might be the last clear voice today who speaks about peace and negotiations with the Palestinians out of genuine concern for the integrity of the Jewish and democratic state," calling her a "true partner in the Zionist camp."