Editorial

Tzipi Livni Paid the Price for Peace

Livni’s retirement testifies to the fact that most of the energy and the political ammunition of the center-left is being wasted on infighting

Former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni announces retirement, Tel Aviv, February 18, 2019.
Sebastian Scheiner/AP

Tzipi Livni’s retirement from political life is a loss for Israel’s legislature in general and the peace camp in particular. Livni, who entered the Knesset in 1999 (representing Likud), went on to head the Kadima party and to serve, among other positions, as foreign minister, justice minister and chairwoman of the opposition. As she said with tears at the press conference she held Monday in Tel Aviv, “I did everything I could for my beloved country.”

Ever since Labor Party Chairman Avi Gabbay dissolved the Zionist Union in early January, in effect ousting Livni, her Hatnuah party has barely been able to cross the electoral threshold in voter polls. Livni didn’t leave without a fight. She tried to link up with Benny Gantz’s new party, Hosen L’Yisrael, and to Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid, but unfortunately both were wary of her leftist image.

>>Read more: A champion of alliances in Israeli politics, Tzipi Livni rejected at finish line | Analysis 

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“Peace has become a dirty word,” said Livni, as she explained the difficulties that accompanied her political activity in recent years. That Gabbay chose to part from Livni, and that both Gantz and Lapid recoiled from associating themselves with her — one of the few MKs who continued to speak loudly and clearly in favor of peace and democracy despite the ugly right-wing wave flooding the country — is a badge of shame for them and their parties.

Livni also weighed a union with Meretz and even a new alliance with Labor, together with former Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Her efforts failed, and out of a sense of responsibility to the peace camp she decided to retire from politics. “I couldn’t forgive myself if the votes of the believers [in my path] were wasted,” she said by way of explaining her reasoning. The fact that the leftist parties didn’t fight for Livni, thus paving the way for her retirement from politics, joins with the worrisome feeling generated by the slates of both parties that an agreement with the Palestinians is not their signal issue.

In recent years Livni has been considered a prominent opposition to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. She has stressed that only by joining forces can the center-left parties win the election in an upset that will end Netanyahu’s terrible, too-long tenure. Her retirement also symbolizes, the peace camp’s inability to put ego aside and work together toward a common goal; it also testifies to the fact that most of the energy and the political ammunition of the center-left is being wasted on infighting. The results on Election Day will reflect this.

It is hoped that even if her departure proves temporary, Livni will continue to be involved in public affairs outside of the Knesset. She has a great deal to contribute to Israel’s public arena, due to her experience at stopping the destructive race toward the annexation of the territories and her concern for the political and democratic future of the state.

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.