Israel's main opposition party in dramatic split ahead of election

Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni gives a statement to the media in the Knesset in Jerusalem

Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni gives a statement to the media in the Knesset in Jerusalem

With a stone-faced Livni sitting next to him at a Zionist Union meeting, Gabbay unceremoniously dumped her.

As Gabbay pointed out in his speech, support for the opposition Zionist Union has slipped away, with polls showing it doing poorly in elections, winning as few as eight seats compared to the 24 it now holds.

It has since tumbled in opinion polls and Gabbay, who took over as leader in 2017, has had an uneasy relationship with Livni, a former foreign minister.

In the last elections, the partnership agreement between Labor and Hatnua allowed the Labor leader to nominate three candidates in the Knesset top twenty list and Livni three candidates including themselves.

On Tuesday, Attorney General Avichai Mandeblit's spokesman told Israel's Channel 2 that he will publicize his decision to indict the premier before the upcoming election. Thank you, ' she said, and then left the room.

Zionist Union chairman Avi Gabbay during a party faction meeting in the Knesset
Zionist Union chairman Avi Gabbay during a party faction meeting in the Knesset

Livni, who was chosen opposition leader over Gabbay's objections, tweeted that "it's better that all doubts have been eliminated" so the country can focus on generating "a revolution in the coming elections".

Later, she rejected Gabbay's disloyalty claims, but said he "was right about one thing today - it was never a real partnership between us, because he never wanted a partnership". "The way he ended it today is proof".

'What is more important than Labour parting ways with Hatnua is to leave the path on which this government is leading us, so we will be able to separate from the Palestinians, ' she said, referring to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict of which she is a leading advocate.

On Saturday, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked broke away from the Jewish Home party Bennett led, creating a new right-wing party. A popular former armed forces chief of staff, Benny Gantz, has also signaled his intention to run by forming a new centrist party. Other polls show Netanyahu continuing to defeat all comers.

Opinion polls predict Likud will win the snap election Netanyahu called for April 9, taking between 27 to 31 seats - enough to lead a right-wing coalition, despite three corruption investigations against him. He declined to comment Tuesday on Gabbay's decision, saying only he wouldn't get involved "in how the left divides its votes".

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