Livni set to unveil new secular Zionist party on Tuesday

Livni set to unveil new secular Zionist party on Tuesday

Latest polls say former Kadima chair could garner around 10 seats in January elections

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Former Kadima party leader Tzipi Livni scheduled a press conference for Tuesday, where she was expected to announce the formation of a new political party to contend in the upcoming Knesset elections.

Sources close to Livni told Israel Radio that she had already made up her mind to form a new party, but that until she makes the announcement she may still change her mind. The former foreign minister had earlier indicated that she would announce her decision as soon as former prime minister Ehud Olmert made clear that he would refrain from contending.

Olmert is reportedly expected to make a formal announcement on Wednesday or Thursday as to whether or not he will return to political life after a nearly four-year hiatus, after stepping down from the premiership in 2009 amid corruption charges. Last week, Olmert indicated that he would likely opt to stay on the sidelines of the upcoming elections.

Livni was said to be forming a new party similar in ideology to the failed secular Zionist Hetz party, to the ire of leftist parties who sought her support, Israel Radio reported on Friday.

Labor Party Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich had appealed to Livni to join forces with her.

Livni resigned from the Knesset in May after losing the Kadima chairmanship. 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, 2013, elections.

How Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s retirement from political life on Monday will affect her chances remains to be seen. Barak broke from the Labor Party in 2011, and his Independence party was expected to just barely clear the Knesset threshold in the upcoming elections.

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