TEL AVIV, (AFP) — Israel’s former foreign minister Tzipi Livni announced her return to politics on Tuesday at the helm of a new party called The Movement, nearly seven months after stepping aside following a primary defeat.
“I have decided to return to politics… and to create a political party that I have named ‘The Movement’,” she told a press conference in Tel Aviv eight weeks before snap elections on January 22.
Her announcement came the day after the ruling rightwing party of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slid sharply to the right following a vote to chose the party’s electoral list, which saw hardliners win top spots.
“Netanyahu lost yesterday and he could lose the elections,” Livni said, referring to the results of the Likud primary.
“Israel’s situation is deteriorating,” she warned, saying: “I came to fight for peace… I won’t let people turn peace into a dirty word.
“I came to fight for security but for international support,” which would allow Israel to act to defend itself, she said.
“I came to fight for Israel as a Jewish state… for a democratic Israel.”
Livni resigned from parliament on May 1, a month after she lost the leadership of the centre-right Kadima party, the main opposition party, to challenger Shaul Mofaz.
During her tenure as opposition leader, Livni was strongly critical of Netanyahu and his rightwing coalition government, and said she had no regrets about her efforts to revive stalled peace talks with the Palestinians.
Livni is a lawyer by training and became head of Kadima after its former leader Ehud Olmert resigned in the face of corruption charges.
A mother of two, she hails from a family of nationalists and began her political career in the Likud party now led by Netanyahu, leaving it in 2005 along with then-prime minister Ariel Sharon for the newly formed Kadima faction.