Tzipi Livni, the most prominent female Israeli politician of her time, is back in the political limelight. The former foreign minister heads the newly formed Hatnua party into Israel’s January 22 election.
The 54-year-old was ousted as leader of the opposition Kadima party in March last year.
She quit the party and gave up her seat in the Knesset as a result.
Livni returns on a ticket to work for peace with the Palestinians and present a genuine alternative to Israel’s right-wing leadership:
“Unfortunately there is a vacuum on the political map in Israel and the values I believe need to be represented in politics and also you know, not only the vision but also the experience to replace Netanyahu,” she said.
Livni was elected to the Knesset as a member of Likud in 1999. In November 2005 she joined Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert in Kadima and became Israel’s foreign minister.
She is an advocate of the two-state solution and believes in peace talks with the Palestinians.
She is a lawyer, a former Mossad agent and mother of two children.
She has voiced her support for Israel’s gay community after a 2009 attack on a gay municipal centre left two people dead. She spoke of a need to reject “intolerance and incitement to violence and urged the community to live their lives despite the “hate crime.”
Former journalist now Labour party leader, Shelly Yachimovitch, has vowed never to sit in government with Benjamin Netanyahu. She is focusing her campaign on social and economic reforms. She is relatively new to politics, beginning her career in 2006 before being elected Labour leader in 2011. She is looking good in the polls with party expecting to finish in second place behind the ruling Likud.
Yair Lapid is an Israeli TV star turned politician and head of a new centrist party, which may well prove an attractive coalition partner for Likud. Polls show Lapid’s party could win between six and nine seats in 120-seat parliament. Israeli governments often rely on small parties to complete a majority.