Israel ex-opposition leader Livni quits parliament (AP) Associated Press) By AMY TEIBEL JERUSALEM, ISRAEL 05/01/12 9:08 am ET)
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JERUSALEM – Former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni announced her
resignation from parliament on Tuesday, weeks after she was ousted as
opposition leader, in a move that could shake up Israeli politics
ahead of widely expected national elections.
Livni, a one-time chief peace negotiator who is widely respected
internationally, vowed to remain active in politics. She has been
rumored to be considering joining a new centrist party being formed
by popular former TV anchorman Yair Lapid.
"I leave at this stage, but I´m not leaving public life," Livni
said. "The citizens of Israel deserve more than the current policy."
Just a few years ago, Livni was one of the country´s most popular
politicians. A founder of the centrist Kadima Party, she served as
foreign minister from 2006 to 2009, a time when she was Israel´s
chief negotiator with the Palestinians. That experience gained her
respect in international circles and helped land her on lists of the
world´s most influential women compiled by such publications as Time,
Forbes and Newsweek.
But in her three years as opposition leader, she faced heavy
criticism for what was widely seen as an ineffective term. Kadima,
which won 28 seats in 2009 elections, making it the largest party in
parliament, has plummeted in opinion polls and is only expected to
win about a dozen seats, if that, in the next vote.
Last month, Shaul Mofaz, a former Israeli military chief, trounced
Livni in internal elections for Kadima´s leadership, setting the
stage for her departure.
By leaving the door open to continued involvement in political life,
Livni´s comments were likely to fuel more speculation that she would
be joining Lapid´s new "Yesh Atid" or "There is a Future" party. She
did not elaborate on her specific plans.
Speaking to reporters at the Knesset, or parliament, Livni said the
people of Israel "deserve more" than what the current leadership has
given. With peace talks deadlocked for the past three years, she
accused the government of ignoring the Palestinians.
Israel is sitting on a "volcano" and its survival as a Jewish,
democratic state is in "mortal danger" if it does not find an
accommodation with the Palestinians, she said.
"The real danger is a politics that buries its head in the sand," she
The Palestinians, and Israeli doves, have warned that Israel risks
turning into a "binational" state of Jews and Arabs if a Palestinian
state is not established in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza
Some 4 million Palestinians live in these areas, and combined with
Israel´s own Arab population, they could soon outnumber the roughly 6
million Jews living in Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signaled this week that he
would soon call early elections. The next vote is scheduled in
October 2013, but an array of issues, including disagreements in
Netanyahu´s coalition over draft exemptions for ultra-religious Jews,
threaten to tear the government apart.
Netanyahu, who is mourning the death of his father, was expected to
make a decision next week.
An opinion poll this week predicted Netanyahu´s Likud would remain
the largest party in parliament if elections were held now, with 30
seats in the 120-member chamber.
But the poll said an alliance joining Livni and Lapid would be the
second-largest party, with 16 seats. Combined with the resurgent
Labor Party and the remnants of Kadima, this dovish bloc could pose a
formidable challenge to Netanyahu if he tries to cobble together
another hard-line coalition.
The poll of 500 people was published Monday by the Dahaf institute, a
prominent polling agency. It had a four-seat margin of error and
reflected other recent surveys. (© 2012 The Associated Press
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