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The most prominent woman politician in Israel today, minister of justice in Netanyahu’s third government from March 2013 until December 2014, Tzipi Livni was born in Tel Aviv on this date in 1958. Livni was the daughter of Irgun members and was raised a rightwing nationalist. She served in the Mossad, earned her law degree, and became active in Likud politics, helping Benjamin Netanyahu privatize the Israeli economy. Notwithstanding this background, Livni became a relatively dovish voice in Israel’s power structure, supporting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and actively supporting Ariel Sharon’s controversial pull-out from the Gaza Strip. She joined with Sharon and Ehud Olmert to found the Kadima Party, and served as foreign minister under both of them, helping to oversee the gruesome war in Gaza, Operation Cast Lead (for which there is a British arrest warrant out for her for alleged war crimes). Livni’s hope to serve as Israeli prime minister was derailed by her rejection by Kadima in a 2012 primary election in which she was defeated 65-35 by former defense minister Shaul Mofaz. At the end of 2012, she created a new political party, Hatnuah (“The Movement”), in which she was joined by seven members of Knesset from Kadima Party and two from Labor. Livni was Israel’s chief negotiator in the recently failed talks brokered by John Kerry. To see her speaking about the challenges facing women in Israeli politics, look below.
“Something that truly frustrates me is the impression in Israel that when you are talking about security, you are bold, you are tough, this is what we need against all the enemies that we have. And when someone is talking about peace, you know, it’s the naive left wing, soft.” —Tsipi Livni