MK Tzipi Livni (Hatnuah), the former Justice Minister who once led the largest faction in the Israeli Knesset, is poised to retire from politics, sources within the Hatnuah party say.
While no formal announcement has yet been made, party insiders say Livni has decided not to run in this year’s Knesset election, out of the concern that her Hatnuah faction is unlikely to pass the electoral threshold and will simply waste thousands of votes on the left.
Last month, Labor chief Avi Gabbay pulled his faction out of the Zionist Union joint list it had formed with Hatnuah in 2015, leaving Livni’s faction to run alone in the April elections.
While Livni vowed to bring a “revolution” on election day, subsequent polls showed Hatnuah failing to clear the 3.25% electoral threshold required to enter the Knesset.
Livni’s departure from politics marks the end of a two-decade career in the Knesset, during which time she served in a number of ministerial roles, including Justice Minister, Foreign Minister, Housing Minister, and Immigration Minister, as well as two stints as Leader of the Opposition.
The daughter of right-wing activists from the Irgun pre-state underground movement who joined the nascent Herut party, Livni followed in her father’s footsteps, entering politics as a member of the Likud in the 15th Knesset in 1999.
When then-Premier Ariel Sharon bolted from the party to found the Kadima faction following the Gaza Disengagement in 2005, Livni left the Likud, and in 2008 became chairwoman of Kadima.
Despite the center-left bloc losing power in the 2009 elections, Kadima remained the largest party in the Knesset, with 28 seats. By 2013, however, the party was floundering, and Livni bolted to form a new faction, Hatnuah (The Movement). The party won six seats and joined the Likud-led coalition, with Livni serving as Justice Minister.
Two years later, however, Livni and Yesh Atid chief Yair Lapid toppled the government, leading to snap elections. With the party’s future uncertain, Hatnuah joined a united ticket with Labor, dubbed the “Zionist Union”. The alliance proved successful, netting a total of 24 seats, compared to the total of 21 the two parties had won separately in 2013.