Israel’s political parties were quick to respond to Tzipi Livni’s Tuesday announcement that she would be running for the Knesset at the head of a new party.
Likud sources were off and running even before she had made her official announcement. “Livni supported the disengagement and brought Hamas into Gaza, now she is vigorously working to bring Hamas and Iran to the West Bank too,” a press release said.
The statement attacked Livni for reentering public life so soon after she announced her retirement in May, calling her “irresponsible and lacking in political wisdom.”
Minister of Environmental Protection Gilad Erdan (Likud) said, “Livni was a representative of the detached left that fails to understand the realities of the Middle East and continues to bury its head in the sand amid rockets being fired at Israel.”
Erdan accused Livni of strengthening Hamas by supporting the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 and consenting to let Hamas run in the 2006 Palestinian elections. “Livni speaks bravely about hope and sells grand dreams, but has failed time after time when it comes to taking action,” said Erdan.
Livni’s former party, Kadima, issued a statement wishing her well on her new path while asking rhetorically what she could accomplish now, with a handful of Knesset seats, that she couldn’t with 28 seats during the past four years as head of Kadima. “It is a politically unwise move. Instead of uniting the [center-left] bloc, Livni decided to split it further,” read the statement.
The party’s campaign chairman, Yisrael Hasson, called Livni’s comeback a “facade,” and slammed her for agreeing to meet with Arab leaders while refusing to sort out her relationship with her successor, Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz.
“A person who puts on airs of representing untainted politics would not abandon her party after losing in internal elections, but would instead stay behind and try to revive it in the polls. Livni is a disloyal person. She possesses not a gram of credibility and is splitting the bloc for nothing more than a Knesset seat,” said Hasson.
The far-right party National Union issued a statement assailing Livni and at the same time taking a swipe at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “Livni is a good match for Netanyahu, who in the past has offered her half the kingdom. The person who was willing to boot hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes [a reference to the 2005 Gaza disengagement] and place the entire country under the threat of rockets hopes to be a senior member of his government and lead him back to the left. The public is not stupid and will make sure there will be a large and strong national religious party to fortify Netanyahu from the right.”
Criticism for the move was also voiced from the left side of the political spectrum. The Labor Party issued a statement asserting Livni was making a bitter mistake. “She is establishing a party of political refugees and making Netanyahu and [Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor] Liberman smile from ear to ear. Instead of talking about their ultra-extremist Knesset list, people are now talking about a new center-left micro-party,” read the statement.
Last week, Labor chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich invited Livni to join Labor as her second-in-command.
The far-left Meretz party responded to the announcement with a statement reading: “Livni is a well-intentioned, worthy woman, but her entrance into politics is a rerun of Kadima. Her move weakens her center-left bloc rivals Labor and Yesh Atid.”
Yesh Atid, a new party helmed by former journalist Yair Lapid, issued a response saying: “Tzipi Livni’s move is a return to the old, divisive politics, driven purely by ego. It is sad that Livni refused to be a partner in bringing real change to the citizens of Israel.”