Tzipi Livni Sleeps with the Fishes

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni has lost her leadership role in Israeli politics. If she doesn’t accept the public’s verdict she will find her political career at the bottom of the Jordan, sleeping with the fishes.

"Israeli Justice Minister and Hatnuah Party Leader Tzipi Livni"
Israeli Justice Minister and Hatnuah Party Leader Tzipi Livni

“The great white hope has faded and thawed into a dew, not adieu. Livni could have toppled Netanyahu tomorrow if she’d wanted. She’s had opportunities. Without her, the coalition would sputter to a quick death with just 62 MKs,” writes Yossi Verter in his latest political column which effectively declares the death of the left leaning wing of this government.

And what a sad sight it has been. For Tzipi Livni was the “great white hope”, the Likudnik who awakened and understood the need for an agreement with the Palestinians; she’s the one who saw the light, the one who could have led the Israelis out of the quick sand of occupation in the West Bank. But, alas, she failed.

Why did this white knight of Israel fail? Her pretention and Hillary Clintonesque ambition may have had something to do with it. In her hubris, she helped crash the Annapolis process through pushing out Olmert and then effectively giving Benjamin Netanyahu the premiership. We all know what happened after that. And now she sustains him! She allowed Kadima to rot in the opposition, and then jumped ship when she was removed from the leadership. Her new party crippled an already straggling Israeli center left, and stayed in the government, despite knowing that it crashed her flagship dream, the Kerry Initiative. The crash and burn of the Kerry Initiative posed a major obstacle to Livni, specifically – how could she remain in a government that knowingly and purposely crashed the peace talks? She resigned to the issues all Israeli center left parties pander to – social issues, the cost of living, and being the hasbara fig leaf for Netanyahu, Ya’alon, Bennett, and Lieberman. While one could argue that she had an effect on the comparatively great amount of restraint shown by Netanyahu in Operation Protective Edge, it is unlikely she played anything more than a support role for the already overcautious and unadventurous Likud chief. Yet now, Netanyahu completely rejects her and her only justification for being in the coalition: the conversion bill. And she remains, deflated.

Though why would any rational personal leave? Why abandon a cushy ministerial position for the same status as Meretz in the opposition? That’d be crazy. Livni knows her party is dead (as it doesn’t even met the new threshold in most polls), and she’d rather ride it out for her own benefit than live with the inconveniences of fighting for something. She may have learned that she doesn’t have a base. Most moderate Israelis chose Yesh Atid over her in 2013, and will continue to choose it and Moshe Kahlon’s new gang the next roundabout. Moderate Israelis no longer care about a diplomatic solution, as the Hebrew press has proved this week; pudding prices in Berlin are much more interesting to them. The voters Livni could have championed were in Labor and maybe Meretz all along, as she attracted some of their former’s MKs to her grand disaster of a party. Now they are howling to be let free and she keeps them on a tight lease inside a rotting and nauseating government.

The women who could have been Prime Minister has been vanquished. Tzipi Livni, Naftali Bennett’s Wicked Witch of the Left, has melted from her own political hubris, and Yossi Verter has laid her eulogy. Livni’s future lies not in leading, but in following. If she wishes to fight on for sanity, moderation, and territorial compromise in the asylum of the Knesset, she has plenty of future options. Otherwise, Tzipi Livni will soon find her political career at the bottom of the Jordan, sleeping with the fishes.

About the Author
Joshua is a recent graduate of The Ohio State University who majored in World Politics with a minor in Middle Eastern Studies. Joshua has been active in Israel advocacy for years, including seminars with AIPAC, the Israeli Consulate to the Midwest, and J Street U.
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