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Ex-opposition leader Tzipi Livni quits Israeli parliament

May 1, 2012 | 10:28 am

Tzipi-livni
JERUSALEM -- Former opposition leader Tzipi Livni, who came close to becoming Israel's first female prime minister since Golda Meir held the post nearly four decades ago, resigned from the Knesset on Tuesday.

The announcement came just weeks after she lost her post as party leader in a primary election.

The former Kadima chairwoman, one of the country's best-known politicians, stressed she was not quitting public life because Israel was "too dear to me."

In Israel, second and even third acts are common in politics and most observers expected her to return to the political arena after a break.

Livni suffered a surprisingly stinging defeat in March, losing an election to head the centrist party to rival Shaul Mofaz.

After leading Kadima to victory in the 2009 elections, when it won more seats than any other party, Livni was unable to form a ruling coalition because she refused to make the concessions demanded of religious parties.

Instead, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the Likud Party formed a government and Livni led the opposition.

But her message, which focused on making a peace deal with Palestinians, failed to resonate with voters. Recent polls suggest Kadima will receive half as many seats in the next election as it did in 2009.

In her farewell speech Tuesday,  Livni said she had no regrets and warned that Netanyahu's government was worsening Israel's international isolation.

"Israel is on a volcano, the international clock is ticking and the existence of a Jewish, democratic state is in mortal danger," she told reporters. "Even if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict isn't in vogue right now, there's an urgent need to reach a permanent agreement with the Palestinians as well as the Arab world."

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-- Edmund Sanders

Photo: Former Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni speaks to the media moments before handing in her resignation from the Knesset, Israel's parliament, on Tuesday. Credit: Gali Tibbon / Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.

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