WASHINGTON – Is former Israeli
Foreign Minister and leader of the centrist Kadima
Party Tzipi Livni
making her first steps back into politics? Livni, who is in the United States for a series of official meetings, gave an interview to CNN's Christiane Amanpour in which she slammed the Likud
and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
for "selling the state to the ultra-Orthodox."
In the interview , Livni attacked the Likud party for "surrendering to the haredim"
and granting them a monopoly on the Jewishness of the State of Israel.
"Politically speaking, Israel is being sold to the ultra-Orthodox," Livni told Amanpour, adding that "the ultra-Orthodox represent a small portion of the Israeli society. They represent part of our history and tradition, but unfortunately they now have more power than they should."
“Netanyahu said himself, that for him politically, the ultra-Orthodox are his natural partners. And I believe that the raison d’etre of the State of Israel is to be the homeland of the Jewish People," she said adding that "for me being a Jewish state means something from a national perspective, not a religious one.”
Addressing the issue of the haredi military draft,
Livni said that "each and every Israeli citizen needs to contribute to the society in which we live in. Unfortunately, because of political reasons, the State gives them (haredim) the monopoly, and this must be changed."
"In order to change reality, you need the willingness of the prime minister to make the change. Unfortunately, Netanyahu's coalition doesn’t want to make the change, and this," Livni said "will be part of Israel's future elections."
Asked whether Israel needed a formal separation between State and synagogue, Livni said that "I believe that what we need is a constitution and a clear definition of the Jewish state. The majority of Israelis understand and believe that Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people by its own nature, but it's also a state with equal rights to all its citizens. The idea of a Jewish state is from a national perspective and not a religious one."
Since Livni's resignation
from the Knesset, a number of Knesset members from Kadima have considered the possibility of resigning from the party to form a new political movement
headed by Livni.
Meanwhile, Haim Ramon,
who was one of Kadima's founders and had left it following the election of Shaul Mofaz
as chairman, revealed that he is currently in the midst of forming a new political party which will be positioned in the center of the political spectrum.
Ramon confirmed that the new party will be, among others, a new home for the former Kadima chairwoman.
Livni has officially distanced herself from Ramon, but continued to hold talks and meetings with Kadima MKs. In recent closed meetings, she stated that "her freedom is over," indicating that her return to Israeli politics is nearing.
One Kadima MK said a number of party members turned to Livni even before she resigned and asked that she form a new political movement. "She didn't say she'd do it, but there are those who hope she will," the lawmaker said. "The party is going to be cut in half in the next elections."
Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report