Former Kadima leader Tzipi Livni has yet to announce a Knesset bid, but she has already had two parties ask her to join their ranks in the span of just two days.
A day after Labor Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich pleaded with the former foreign minister to abort her likely candidacy and avoid further fragmentation on the Left ahead of the Jan. 22 elections (Channel 10 reported that she offered her the No. 2 slot on the Labor list), journalist and TV host Yair Lapid appealed to Livni asking her to work with him “to change this country.”
After several weeks of deliberations, Livni is poised to announce her candidacy as early as Tuesday. She will likely run as the head of a new party. Livni, who served as former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s deputy, was Kadima’s standard-bearer in the 2009 elections. Although the party won the most Knesset seats, the Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu bested her in the coalition talks and garnered the 61 MK majority needed to form a government. Livni was ousted from the Kadima leadership in March after losing the party primaries and subsequently resigned from the Knesset.
Lapid, who pledged to have no active politicians on his list when he entered politics in January, wrote on his party’s Facebook page on Sunday that he and Livni “had quite a few talks over the past several days; she was offered the No. 2 slot on the Yesh Atid list and a chance to be an active partner in all the important decisions that lie ahead.” Lapid echoed Yachimovich, warning that “Israel would be ill-served by the fragmentation of the political Center; I call on her [Livni] to join me and to change this country.”
On Thursday Lapid denied he was having talks with Livni on a joint run. Analysts believe Lapid’s about-face is a result of his party’s declining popularity. Recent polls suggest a party headed by Livni would take a significant number of votes from Yesh Atid. Lapid’s post elicited many comments on his account. “You promised not to recycle politicians; this is quite sad,” one user wrote.
But for all the political wheeling and dealing, the conventional wisdom is that Livni would stick to her guns and mount an independent bid. According to Channel 10, Yachimovich offered Livni the No. 2 spot on Labor’s list of candidates for the Knesset, but Livni demanded that the two take turns as prime minister in the event that Labor is tasked with assembling the next coalition.
At a conference sponsored by the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya two weeks ago, Livni said a united Center-Left bloc is of paramount importance. “I have no interest in dividing the bloc to which I belong,” she said. “There be would be no wisdom in doing that.”
Channel 2 reported on Saturday that if Livni decides to run in the elections at the head of her own party, the party might be given the name “National Responsibility.”
The report also said Livni was to meet Olmert on Sunday to discuss a joint ticket. They have already met twice recently, and Livni said she was waiting for Olmert to announce his decision on his political comeback before she announced her own decision.
Olmert postponed his decision because of Operation Pillar of Defense but is expected to declare his intentions in the coming days.
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