Gabbay and Livni also decided that they would maintain their political alliance under the banner of the Zionist Union in their effort to unify their electoral base and threaten Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s majority Likud party in the 2019 elections.
“Tzipi Livni will be appointed as the chairwoman of the opposition in order to act together to grow the Zionist Union as a strong faction to replace the current regime to work for the citizens,” a party statement said.
“We are taking a significant step today to build an alternative to the current regime. The union will represent new hope fo the citizens of Israel and will allow us to invest all of our energy to persuade a new public,” Gabbay said.
MK Livni was also praised by Gabbay as a veteran of Israeli politics with extensive experience, “especially on matters of diplomacy and security and I have no doubt she will create new energy in the opposition.”
Livni has occupied some of Israel’s most prominent political posts, including heading the Foreign Ministry and serving as chief negotiator in the peace talks brokered by the US Obama administration.
“Today we represent opposition and alternative. Avi Gabbay and I are joining hands and creating a strong and alternative opposition for Israel centered around the Zionist Union,” Livni said following the decision.
“We have decided to strengthen the Zionist Union as a base for creating a wide bloc, to work together—I, as head of the opposition and Gabbay as head of the Zionist Union and as a candidate to lead the government, with the goal of replacing the regime,” Livni added.
Her gratitude was also extended to Isaac Herzog, for establishing with her the Zionist Union and for what she described as his “deep cooperation and friendship.”
“We call on anybody observing to unite behind this urgent coalition in this hour of urgency. The citizens of Israel will have a choice: either it’s the way of the government or it's our way. Every person, every leader must choose a side. No one can sit on the fence,” Livni said.
For her part, Livni made clear in a series of discussions with Gabbay that there was no other alternative to her nomination. Livni’s associates even issued a tacit ultimatum that failure to appoint her would result in the dismantlement of the Zionist Union altogether.
However, the political game continued to govern the decision until the last minute, with Gabbay seeking to neutralize the potential threat posed by Livni, insisting prior to the announcement that she commit to not breaking up the Zionist Union in the next elections.
In gaining her commitment, Gabbay hopes to prevent his ally from shoring up popularity in her new role and using it as a springboard to promote her own party and leave the Labor party in her tracks.