Former Kadima leader Tzipi Livni on Tuesday announced her new political party, Hatnua (“The Movement”), in a press conference in Tel Aviv, calling for a change to Israel’s domestic and foreign agendas and saying, “If we don’t make a change now, we won’t be able to make it in the future.”
Livni began her address to the press by recalling the birth of her political career, a few weeks before the assassination of then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. She said she would fight for a “democratic Israel” and added, “Things are deteriorating in Israel. There is no one who represents us.”
“It’s tough to return to political life,” she said, recounting that when her youngest son, an officer, was sent to the south last week during Operation Pillar of Defense, she texted him to say she was planning to run. “I told him I would fight in my [political] arena so that he wouldn’t have to fight in his.”
“Everything is upside down,” Livni said, referring to the government’s ceasefire negotiations with Hamas versus the lack of peace talks with the Palestinian Authority: “The government enters dialogue with those who support terror, and avoids the camp that has prevented terror, that fights for two states.”
Moving on to domestic issues, Livni pledged to push for ultra-Orthodox military conscription and to promote initiatives that would allow “young people to have homes, earn a living, and live with dignity without always fearing for the future.”
“The Movement is the only party that can do this,” she said, noting that Monday night’s Likud primaries only strengthened the right-wing and “Feiglinists” at the helm of the country. “I oppose their extremism. I’m in favor of a Zionist party — a liberal, secular, and democratic party.”
Livni’s address was punctuated by applause from supporters who joined the press gathering. She will reportedly be joined by a cadre of former Kadima Knesset members and other would-be politicians, including MKs Yohanan Plesner, Shlomo Mola, Yoel Hasson and Professor Yitzhak Ben Yisrael; diplomat Daniel Shek; and Boaz Nol, one of the leaders of the Suckers’ movement, which has spearheaded the struggle for universal conscription.
Earlier, Livni unveiled her new political party’s name via her Facebook page.
Livni’s choice to establish her own party has drawn the ire of left-leaning politicians who were seeking her cooperation, including Labor Party chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich, who had appealed to Livni to join forces with her.
Livni resigned from the Knesset in May after losing the Kadima chairmanship to former chief of General Staff Shaul Mofaz. The latest opinion polls indicate that a new party under her leadership would garner some 10 Knesset seats in the January 22 elections.
Livni served under former prime minister Ehud Olmert as foreign minister and took over the Kadima party when Olmert left politics four years ago to fight corruption charges. Rumors that Olmert was planning a political comeback, possibly together with Livni, have circulated for months, and Livni was reportedly waiting for the former premier to make a decision to stay out of the race before announcing her own plans for the election.
Yoel Goldman and Ilan Ben Zion contributed to this report.