Israel elections: Livni faces the parties as Olmert faces the next step

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 1, 2012
Bouncing Back: Livni (Photo: Flash 90)

Bouncing Back: Livni (Photo: Flash 90)

The political scene in Israel is expecting a return to the fray by Tzipi Livni, the former Kadima leader, although no one is sure yet — not even Livni herself — which party she will choose.

Seven months after she resigned from the Knesset following her defeat by Shaul Mofaz in Kadima’s leadership primaries, Ms Livni is already talking like a politician competing for votes.

On Sunday, she appeared at an environmental conference in Tel Aviv and said: “I am at a point where I want to make sure that I can not only sound my voice but give to the country what it needs, a change in government.”

She used her speech to attack Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and warned that the Likud-Beiteinu deal could lead to “a government without checks and balances”.

She called on the opposition parties to unite behind an agreed-upon challenger to Mr Netanyahu but gave no clear indication as to her own personal plans. In recent weeks, she has held talks with President Shimon Peres and former prime minister Ehud Olmert and both have urged her to return to active politics.

Rumours have been circulating about Mr Olmert’s imminent return and it was reported this week that cracks may be appearing in the state’s major bribery case against him.

However, there is still a possibility that the State Prosecutor could appeal against Mr Olmert’s acquittal on two corruption charges in a separate case. This would scupper his chances of running.

Ms Livni currently has three options. She can return to Kadima as Mr Mofaz’s deputy, where she will be accepted with open arms in the hope she will manage to attract some of the many voters who, according to the polls, have left the party, but this possibility is regarded as unlikely.

Some polls give a new centrist party headed by Ms Livni as much as 10 per cent of the general vote, mostly at Labour’s expense, while a third option would be to run together with Labour’s leader Shelly Yachimovich.

Last updated: 6:45pm, November 1 2012