'They offered me to join another party, I hung up'

MK Eyal Ben-Reuven: At this moment, Tzipi Livni is not considering leaving the Zionist Union.

Shimon Cohen ,

Tzipi Livni and Avi Gabbay
Tzipi Livni and Avi Gabbay
Miriam Alster/Flash 90

MK Eyal Ben-Reuven (Zionist Union), who is a member of Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua party, on Thursday discussed the Zionist Union’s continued failure to gain traction in the polls as the election campaign gets underway.

A poll published Thursday by the Israel Hayom newspaper gives the Zionist Union, an alliance between the Labor party and Hatnua, just 7 Knesset seats, its lowest number ever. Most of the votes lost by the Zionist Union, the poll found, would go to the newly formed “Hosen Leyisrael” (Israel Resilience Party) of former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz.

"We know that politics and commitment don’t always go together," Ben-Reuven told Arutz Sheva, "but we, Hatnua and Tzipi Livni, are with the Labor party. There is an agreement between the parties that we are running together and we are committed to that. Tzipi Livni is number two and Avi Gabbay is number one and we are doing everything to make the Zionist Union rise from where it is right now."

Ben-Reuven discussed Livni’s comments earlier this week, in which she called on other politicians to “put the ego aside” and present a united front in the center-left bloc. The comments were widely interpreted to be criticism of Gabbay and a call on him to step down as leader of the Zionist Union.

"What Tzipi Livni said is very simple and unfortunately it is being interpreted incorrectly in some places. What she said is that the entire Zionist Union needs to bring good people in order to win. Sometimes one has to put himself aside for the good of the country. Now it's a test for all the leaders of the left, whether they are willing to put their ego aside in order to bring down the current government and think about how to bring the best result," he said.

"Everyone says that ‘the state comes before the ego, but only on the condition that I am the leader.’ If everyone in the left center says this, then on the 10th of April we will find ourselves with the same bad government that is taking us to extreme places, as we have seen so far," continued Ben-Reuven.

At the same time, he said, "I'm still optimistic, and I'm counting on the fact that in a month or a month and a half everyone will have to look in the real mirror and tell himself what needs be done for the effort, and if it means giving up the ego and choosing one person who brings the most votes, it can be Avi [Gabbay] or Benny [Gantz], maybe we can find the mechanism by which to determine who will be ‘the one’. I also heard Yair Lapid say that he is the only one, and at the moment it is a logical strategy, but if you want to win, some will have to concede and accept the one we will all unite around. That’s the only way to bring results. Unfortunately, the only one who has said she is willing to give up a spot and put her ego aside is Tzipi Livni."

Asked whether Hatnua would consider joining another party that is more likely to bring about a change, Ben-Reuven replied, "We are now very close to the crucial moment in which they will have to make final decisions. I am not a veteran politician, but I can say that in politics everything is possible. Right now we are committed to the Zionist Union, period.”

"I can reveal to you that someone called me yesterday and offered me to join another party but I said that for me, ethics, honor and commitment play a very central role and I hung up the phone.”

"Today the center-left camp is at a point from which it is only possible to go up,” opined Ben-Reuven. “The current government is at its lowest point in the triangle of security, economic and social policy. The most severe damage to which the current government leads is in the social sphere, causing harm to the gatekeeper, democracy and to the ‘other’. The social side is causing the State of Israel to collapse. They are at a low point and we are at a high point and I hope that this will be reflected in the elections."