Livni says she’ll forgo being prime minister should Zionist Union win

Julie Wiener

(JTA) — Israeli politician Tzipi Livni said she will forgo the opportunity to take the prime minister position in two years should her Zionist Union slate prevail in the elections.

Livni made the announcement on Monday night, less than a day before Israelis vote for a new national government.

In December, when her Hatnuah party merged with the Labor Party to form the center-left Zionist Union, it was with the understanding that its two leaders would share the premiership in rotating shifts should the combined slate win in the elections. Labor’s Isaac Herzog was to take the first two-year shift.

Livni reportedly made the announcement in order to ease the way for Herzog to form a government coalition, as well as to strengthen support for the Zionist Union in the last hours before Israelis go to the polls.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who heads the center-right Likud Party, responded by accusing the Zionist Union of “panicking.” Naftali Bennett of the right-wing Jewish Home party speculated that Livni’s decision signaled that Zionist Union would form a unity government with Likud, a theory Herzog denied.