Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg
Tzipi Livni, January 1, 2019
Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg
Sima Kadmon

Zionist Union split was just politics as usual

Opinion: Gabbay behaved inexcusably when he threw Livni to the curb in front of the cameras, but she can definitely handle it; ultimately, the two hated one other and should have separated long ago

You just don't do what Labor Chairman Avi Gabbay did to Tzipi Livni on Tuesday. Period. Not in real life and not in politics. But having said that, if someone had to endure such public humiliation, Livni is certainly a reasonable choice; Gabbay's surprise announcement and her reaction to it is a testament to her character, which in itself is somewhat questionable.



If you think that Gabbay's shock announcement was a bloodbath, you should consider that no blood was shed since Livni is has ice water running through her veins. Her claim that Gabbay wouldn't dare do this to a man and humiliated her in front of the cameras because she is a woman is far from convincing. Livni certainly is no fragile, subservient female.


Avi Gabbay and Tzipi Livni (Photo: Amit Shabi)
Avi Gabbay and Tzipi Livni


Come on, you can't ignore the fact that she has done the same to others: She did it to Ehud Olmert, then prime minister and her party's chairman, when she called for his resignation before anyone else could make a sound. She did it to former defense minister Shaul Mofaz when she interrupted him again and again at a faction meeting. Some say that Livni is made of the right stuff to be a politician. They say she is a cold blooded politician who, in the name of ideology, has shown no mercy to her adversaries.


What did she repeatedly say? We need to put our egos to one side. So Gabbay took her at her word, and put her ego to one side. He also trampled it a little, just enough to get his point across without ruining her chances for recovery.


On the other hand, Gabbay has been feeling for quite some time now that Livni crushes him and completely disregards his own ego. Don't forget, the man was duly elected as chairman of the Zionist Union faction, but gave Livni what she wanted — the prestigious role of the opposition leader. He didn’t want to, since he was afraid that instead of being grateful and honoring her part of the agreement, Livni would try to use her position to attract new faction members who would walk all over him like a doormat. Unfortunately, his fears were realized.


It's no secret that Livni has been doing this for a long time. She has been holding meeting with potential new partners in order to build a large left-center bloc that would give Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a run for his money. Gabbay saw this and went berserk. He knows that if such a bloc were established, he would probably be the first one to be kicked to the curb . In a way, he did Livni a favor when he cut the somewhat virtual cords between them, and gave her freedom to do what she wants, but without bodyguards or an official car and driver when she meets Ehud Barak, for example, behind his back. EVen so, Gabbay's announcement was filled with cunning and vengeance, both in terms of timing and the way it was executed.


Tzipi Livni at a press conference after Gabbay's announcement, January 1, 2019 (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
Tzipi Livni at a press conference after Gabbay's announcement, January 1, 2019

There are no good and bad guys in this story, just politics. Livni was right to worry that Gabbay cannot deliver the goods. The Zionist Union has been struggling in the polls and things are only getting worse and Gabbay is unable to win over new party members who would tip the scales in his favor.


On the other hand, he is not the sole culprit. Labor has a long history of bad decisions and unsuccessful partnerships. Expect for a few moments of grace, it has been hopeless for years. Then again, going behind the chairman's back in the name of ideology will not bring about change.


What happened between Livni and Gabbay should have happened long ago. There is no point in being polite; the two couldn't bear each other. The only reason it lasted this long was mutual interest. Gabbay knows that Livni is an asset to the Zionist Union. And even though he was heard saying that the split will strengthen the Labor Party, it's doubtful that he actually believes it.


Respect for Livni has grown over the years (but only after she lost her pivotal place in politics), especially when the government is overflowing with corruption and racism but devoid of people with leadership skills.


What happens to Labor now, and what will happen to Livni and to her party? Anyone who claims to know is wrong. No one knows, just as no one could predict the political earthquakes that followed last month's announcement of early elections. We will just have to wait and see.





פרסום ראשון: 01.02.19, 12:44
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