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Gabbay Disbands Zionist Union Party; Livni Says Priority is to Replace Bibi

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The most important mission is to bring about a “political revolution” and replace Binyamin Netanyahu as prime minister, Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni said at a press conference Tuesday, just hours after Labor Party Chairman Avi Gabbay disbanded the Zionist Union and unceremoniously ousted her from their joint-list. Photo Credit: Kobi Richter/TPS

The most important mission is to bring about a “political revolution” and replace Binyamin Netanyahu as prime minister, Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni said at a press conference Tuesday, just hours after Labor Party Chairman Avi Gabbay disbanded the Zionist Union and unceremoniously ousted her from their joint-list.

Livni said she would be open to joining a Center-Left partnership that she would not necessarily head, should a candidate that can bring in more votes than her emerge.

Livni reiterated Gabbay’s assertion that there had been no real partnership between her and Gabbay, but did not mince words in her criticism of the public and sudden way he had chosen to inform her of his decision.

“The partnership with [former party chairman Isaac] Herzog brought the Zionist Union 24 Knesset seats. There was no real partnership between me and Gabbay,” said Livni, “The way he ended it proves that,” she added.

“Had Gabbay picked up the phone and told me he wants us to split, I would have been relieved,” said Livni, “We could have stood together with two podiums and said ‘we tried’. The Israeli public would have liked to see their leaders act that way.”

Livni continued to say that despite her doubts about the partnership with Gabbay, she refused to cooperate with initiatives, even from within the party, to break up the Zionist Union, emphasizing that she will not be part of such a move.

“What you hear today [from Gabbay] is what I’ve been hearing the entire time [since he was elected as party head] is ‘me, me, me’,” Livni continued, “Our set of priorities needs to be the state, the party, and then ‘me’.”

Commenting on a possible partnership between Gabbay and former IDF Chief of General Staff Benny Gantz, Livni wished them “the best of luck.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Labor Party Chairman Avi Gabbay surprised Livni as well as other party members when he announced that he is disbanding the Zionist Union during a party faction meeting. Shortly after, Livni said she was surprised by the move, though adding that “it’s good that all of the doubts have dissipated, and that now, we can focus on the important national challenge that faces all of us – an upset in the coming elections.”

Gaנbay’s move to oust Livni was met with mixed reactions from Labor party MKs. Former party chairman and current MK Shelly Yachimovich said Gabbay took a brave step that required “courage and leadership,” adding that “we can’t deny the facts: Despite Livni being a worthy person, the partnership between her and Gabbay did not work. To the contrary, it weakened us, especially since it was clear that she did not accept his leadership.”

MK Itzik Shmuli said that he backs up Gabbay’s decision. “Livni is an upstanding person but her conduct towards the party and the chairman intensified the distrust and de-facto dissolved the partnership.”

MK Yoel Hasson, a member of Livni’s Hatnua party, criticized the move, saying that “from the first day, Gabbay did not accept the principal of partnership, the partnership which brought in 24 seats [in the previous elections]. The poll results today are the direct result of Gabbay’s one man leadership.”

(TPS)

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