Livni said poised for political comeback amid push for center-left bloc
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Livni said poised for political comeback amid push for center-left bloc

Former foreign minister meets Labor leader Peretz for ‘very positive’ talks, will reportedly join a merger with Ehud Barak’s new party if it materializes

Composite picture showing Labor leader Amir Peretz (R) speaking at a press conference in Tel Aviv on July 3, 2019, and Hatnua leader Tzipi Livni (L) speaking at a press conference in Tel Aviv on February 18, 2019. (Flash90)
Composite picture showing Labor leader Amir Peretz (R) speaking at a press conference in Tel Aviv on July 3, 2019, and Hatnua leader Tzipi Livni (L) speaking at a press conference in Tel Aviv on February 18, 2019. (Flash90)

Former foreign minister Tzipi Livni appeared Thursday to be poised to rejoin the political arena, as she met with Labor leader Amir Peretz amid a push to form a united bloc of center-left parties ahead of general elections in September.

A statement from Peretz’s office described the meeting with the former Hatnua leader as “very good,” but stopped short of announcing a political merger.

According to Channel 13, Livni is interested in a political comeback, but has said she will only run in the upcoming elections if Labor and former prime minister Ehud Barak’s new party join forces.

Livni was set to meet with chairman of the left-wing Meretz party, Nitzan Horowitz, later on Thursday.

Knesset hopefuls have until the end of July to finalize their electoral slates. Barak, who announced his own political comeback last month when he formed the Israel Democratic Party (IDP), has been actively exploring a center-left electoral bloc in a bid to unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Former prime minister Ehud Barak announces the formation of a new party at Tel Aviv’s Beit Sokolov on June 26, 2019. (Flash90)

Barak is eyeing a joint ticket with Labor, Meretz and Livni, and has said that he would be willing to give up the number one spot if it would oust Netanyahu and his Likud party from the leadership.

Peretz has previously signaled that he is willing to do whatever it takes to create a large center-left bloc, including stepping aside to let Barak lead a joint slate of their two parties.

Both Peretz and Barak have previously led Labor, and Barak wrested control of the party from Peretz in 2007. The two met on Wednesday in a meeting described by Peretz as “very positive,” but no announcement about a joint ticket was made.

Then-Labor party head Ehud Barak with Amir Peretz, November 16, 2008. (Roni Schutzer/Flash90)

A poll conducted last week gave Barak’s new party four Knesset seats out of 120. Other polls conducted recently have given him between four and eight seats in the September elections.

On Thursday, Barak told Army Radio that he was the most popular candidate to lead a hypothetical IDP-Labor list, but insisted that he didn’t care about the standing.

“The vast majority want me to lead a joint ticket with the Labor party. I will run until the end, but my spot on the list really doesn’t matter. I’ll be No. 3 to Livni, or No. 17 on a joint list,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Blue and White party, the main rival to Netanyahu’s Likud, has not reacted enthusiastically to the prospect of merging with Barak’s slate. While former army chief Gabi Ashkenazi said he was open to the notion, Yair Lapid and Moshe Ya’alon have rejected it.

Livni quit politics earlier this year, ahead of the April elections, after then-Labor leader Avi Gabbay announced at a press conference alongside her that he was ousting her and her Hatnua party and dismantling the Zionist Union alliance.

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