Labor party chief Shelly Yachimovich urged Tzipi Livni on Saturday to refrain from starting a new political party and to join Labor in order to strengthen Israel’s political center.
Livni, an ex-foreign minister, is expected to announce within days her intention to run for the Knesset at the helm of a new party founded on the basis of the formerly unsuccessful, secular Zionist Hetz party.
Speaking at a cultural event in Tel Aviv, Yachimovich said, “He who wishes to topple Netanyahu and strengthen the center bloc must join Labor and not set up splinter parties.”
She added, “Livni is a person worthy of the political system. She has to do it with me… the right way is to do this together, not separately.”
Livni, who inherited the leadership of the Kadima party from Olmert and relinquished it after losing in primaries this year to Shaul Mofaz, is hoping for a major political comeback. An opinion poll sponsored by Israel’s Channel 2 indicated on Friday that a new party under her leadership could garner 10 Knesset seats in the January 22 elections.
A run by Livni is largely expected to pull votes from both Labor and the left-wing Meretz party. Recent polling also indicated that Livni would take votes away from anchorman-turned-politician Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party, and that she would decimate the floundering Kadima party.
Strengthening the resurgent Livni’s security credentials is ex-general Yitzhak Ben Yisrael, a former Kadima MK and ex-head of Israel’s space program. And Channel 2 reported Friday that Livni was in the process of recruiting former Labor leader and ex-general Amram Mitzna to run on her list. On her prospective Knesset list as well are “Suckers’ Tent” protest leader Boaz Nol — campaigning for universal conscription — and the former Israeli ambassador to France, Daniel Shek.