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Monday, April 25, 2011

Tzipi Livni

(Israel Twitter)Tzipporah Malkah "Tzipi" Livni (Hebrew: ציפורה מלכה "ציפי" לבני‎, born 8 July 1958) is an Israeli lawyer and politician. She is the current Israeli Opposition Leader and leader of Kadima, the largest party in the Knesset. Raised an ardent nationalist, Livni has become one of her nation's leading voices for the two-state solution. In Israel she has earned a reputation as honest, clean, and sticking to her principles. She is the first woman to be leader of the opposition in Israel. In 2011 Livni was named one of "150 Women Who Shake the World" by Newsweek and The Daily Beast.

Early life

Born in Tel Aviv, Livni is the daughter of Eitan Livni (born in Poland) and Sara Rosenberg, both prominent former Irgun members. Her father served as the chief operations officer of the Irgun.

Military service

Tzipi Livni served as a lieutenant in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).According to an interview in Yediot Aharonot, described in The Sunday Times, she served in the elite Mossad unit responsible for Operation Wrath of God (also known as Bayonet) in the 1980s. She resigned from the IDF in August 1983 to marry and finish her law studies.

Early political and public career

Livni entered politics in 1996 when she tried unsuccessfully to win a spot on Likud's list to the Knesset. She was appointed as head of the government-owned corporations authority in Netanyahu's government, and oversaw the privatization of a number of companies

Cabinet minister

Livni was first elected to the Knesset as a member of the Likud party in 1999. When Likud leader Ariel Sharon became prime minister in July 2001, Livni was appointed Minister of Regional Co-operation, and thereafter held various Cabinet positions including Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Minister of Immigrant Absorption and Minister of Housing and Construction. She received the Abirat Ha-Shilton ("Quality of Governance") award for 2004. On 1 October 2005, she was appointed Minister of Justice after several months acting in that position.

Joining Kadima

On 20 November 2005, Livni followed Sharon and Ehud Olmert into the new Kadima Party. Ahead of the 28 March elections, Livni was appointed to be the new Foreign Minister, while continuing to serve as Justice Minister, as a result of the mass resignation of Likud Party members from the government.


Grad rocket fired from Gaza hits the city of Beersheba and destroys a kindergarten classroom. Tzipi Livni visits the site.
In the selection of candidates for the March 2006 Knesset election, Livni was awarded the number three position on Kadima's list of candidates, which effectively guaranteed her election to the Knesset

Deputy prime minister

On 4 May 2006, with the swearing-in of the 31st Government, Livni became Vice (or Deputy) Prime Minister and retained the position of Foreign Minister. She ceased serving as Justice Minister at that time, but again held that position from 29 November 2006 to 7 February 2007, while still serving in her primary role of Foreign Minister.
After the March 2006 Knesset election, Livni was described as "the second most powerful politician in Israel". Livni is the second woman in Israel to hold the post of foreign minister, after Golda Meir. In 2007, she was included in the Time 100 Most Influential People in the World. Forbes ranked her the 40th most powerful woman in the world in 2006, 39th in 2007, and 52nd in 2008.

In the Kadima leadership election held on 17 September 2008, Olmert decided not to stand for re-election as party leader, and stated he would resign as Prime Minister following the election. Livni and Shaul Mofaz emerged as the main rivals for the leadership. Livni won the Kadima leadership election by a margin of just 431 votes (1%). Palestinian peace negotiators were reportedly pleased with the result.
Upon declaring victory in the leadership election, Livni said the "national responsibility (bestowed) by the public brings me to approach this job with great reverence."
On 21 September 2008, Olmert, who was facing several criminal investigations, formally resigned his office in a letter submitted to President Shimon Peres, and the following day Peres formally asked Livni to form a new government. Livni faced tough negotiations with Kadima's coalition partners, particularly the Shas party, which had set conditions for joining a Livni government. Likud, the main opposition party, lobbyied Shas and other parties seeking to bring about that result.

In February 2009 Israel held elections for the national parliament, the Knesset. Livni, foreign minister and head of the Kadima party, campaigned against Benjamin Netanyahu of the Likud party to lead the new government. While election results gave Kadima the most seats in the Knesset, parties to the right in Israel's political spectrum gained enough seats that a coalition government under Kadima leadership was unlikely. As a result, Israeli president Shimon Peres asked Netanyahu and Likud (which received one less seat than Kadima in the elections) to form a government; this is the first time in Israel's history that the party with the most seats was not asked to attempt to form a government.
Although it expressed some doubts, the influential Haaretz newspaper endorsed Livni for prime minister.
Opposition leader

After an internal Foreign Ministry document stated that some European Union countries were considering freezing a planned upgrade in relations with Israel, Livni, as opposition leader, wrote in the message addressed to EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, the EU's external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, and the EU's current council president, Czech foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg: "You all know my commitment to peace between Israel and its neighbors and to the two-state solution, a commitment shared with the majority of the Israeli public. I believe that this kind of attitude, one which directly links an upgrade in relations with regional diplomatic progress, is overlooking the substantial gains that the upgrade could provide both to the people of Israel and the people of Europe."
On May 25, 2009, Livni told Harvard University students: "On the Iranian issue, there is no opposition or coalition in Israel.
Prior to Lebanon's 2009 general elections (and its inclusion of Hezbollah), Livni "acknowledged an important principle" from U.S. President Barack Obama's then-recent speech in Cairo that “Elections alone do not make true democracy.” She explained her position in a New York Times op-ed by alluding to her experience as Israel's justice minister when Hamas participated in Palestinian elections in 2006: "At the time, the counterargument was that the very participation in elections would act as a moderating force on extremist groups. With more accountability, such groups would be tempted to abandon their militant approach in favor of a purely political platform. But this analysis ignored the possibility that some radical groups sought participation in the democratic process not to forsake their violent agenda but to advance it." Livni advocated that "the international community must adopt at the global level what true democracies apply at the national one -— a universal code for participation in democratic elections. This would include requiring every party running for office to renounce violence, pursue its aims by peaceful means and commit to binding laws and international agreements." She added that "The intent here is not to stifle disagreement, exclude key actors from the political process or suggest that democracy be uniform and disregard local cultures and values.

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