Livni Demands Opposition Head Position – Or Else

YERUSHALAYIM -
Zionist Camp leader Avi Gabay seen leading a faction meeting in the Knesset. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

MK Tzippy Livni, currently a member of Zionist Camp – but actually the head of the Hatnu’ah party, formed from the ashes of the defunct Kadima party – has demanded that she be named opposition head by party head Avi Gabay. If he does not comply, Livni will take the eight MKs that are members of Zionist Camp and break up the party, she said at a meeting of the Zionist Camp faction Monday.

Until Sunday, Zionist Camp MK Yitzchak Herzog was opposition head, but he was removed from that position when he resigned from the Knesset to take the job of head of the Jewish Agency. The opposition leader is accorded special status in Knesset discussions, as he speaks after the prime minister during debates, and is generally considered the MK from the opposition most likely to be chosen to run against a sitting prime minister. He also receives increased security, and a ministerial-level vehicle, courtesy of the state.

The demand presents a bit of a dilemma for Gabay – who, because he is not a Knesset member, cannot be head of the opposition, but as head of the Labor Party component of Zionist Camp, is expected by rank-and-file Labor members to prefer the party’s agenda. Among Labor members, the top candidate is Shelly Yechimovich. Amir Peretz, also a member of Hatnu’ah, is said to be interested in the job. It is not clear what his feelings are about Livni’s demands, Channel Ten political analysts said.

“In my eyes, the appointment to the position of opposition head is a requirement in order for us to continue our partnership,” Livni said at the Zionist Camp faction meeting Monday. “This can be a great opportunity for us to strengthen our partnership, and could be an important factor in decisions in the future,” apparently hinting at her interest in being a candidate for prime minister. In response, Gabay said that he would not discuss the matter during Monday’s session.