LIVNI, Tzipi

Israeli woman politician, successively member of the Likud and Kadima, Tzipi Livni took office in the government since 2001.

Born in Tel Aviv on July 8, 1958, Tzipora Malka « Tzipi » Livni is the daughter of Sara and Eitan Livni, both former members of the Irgoun. They were also the first to marry in the new State of Israel. Eitan was also a member of the Likud party and en was in this capacity in the Knesset.

Army and studies

In the early 80, after her schooling, Tzipi Livni became army lieutenant and spent four years working for the Mossad. She then obtained a law degree at the Bar-Ilan University, after which it exercises for a few years as a lawyer specialised in public and commercial law.

She began her public activities in 1996 when she was appointed Director of the State-owned companies Office. In this role, she was responsible for the privatization of companies and state monopolies.

Political Life

In 1999, she was elected for the Likud in the Knesset. She became part of the Commission on the Constitution, Law and Justice, and the Commission for the Promotion of the Status of Women. She was also president of the Subcommission of the preventive legislation against money laundering.

In 2001, she was appointed Minister in the 29th Israeli government headed by Ariel Sharon. She then served as Minister of Regional Cooperation, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. Within the 30th government in place since 2003, she was successively Minister of Housing, Integration, Justice and Foreign Affairs (the latter function is assigned to her following the massive Likud resignation because of the Kadima’s founding end 2005).

In 2005, Tzipi Livni is positioning herself as advocate of unilateral withdrawal plan from the Gaza Strip by Ariel Sharon. Shen then will be one of her most ardent promoters. She is known to be a dove of the Likud party, and often serves as an intermediary between the hawks and doves within his party.

At the end of 2005, she follows Ariel Sharon in the new party Kadima. Following Sharon’s attack, she was rumoured to succeed him but brought a denial to those rumors. Kadima won and Tzipi Livni was third on that list, which assured her to participate in the government. On May 4, 2006, she felt under the government of Ehud Olmert as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister.

Due to the conflict between Israel and Lebanon in 2006, Ehud Olmert is increasingly criticized by the Israeli public, whether for his mismanagement of this war or because of corruption cases. In May 2007 Livni calls for Olmert’s resignation after the publication of the interim report of the Winograd Commission. She offers herself as successor to head the party Kadima if Olmert were to resign. But her appeal was ignored by Olmert and her decision not to resign has raised some controversies. Her lack of political courage led the press to nickname her « Tizipi the Knife ».

She came back to her image of « Mrs Clean » honest and right with Ehud Olmert’s cases of bribery that broke out. She then expressed her concern about the collapse of values in the Israeli political system.

On  July 31, 2008 Ehud Olmert declaired he would  resign after the internal elections of Kadima. Tzipi Livni is approached winner in the race for the presidency of the party against Shaul Mofaz  the current Minister of Transport. In addition, the Minister of Foreign Affairs is seeking to be elected Prime Minister. It is said that she is the only one able to compete Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of Likud. However, polls are not very optimistic about her victory, who would be the second woman Prime Minister in Israel after Golda Meir.

Livni has the support of the Bush administration, she managed to maintain dialogue with Palestinian Authority officials and defends the idea of split territories. Yet she is not popular. However, if she takes the helm of Kadima, she will then serve as interim Prime Minister. This could play in her favour.