CAMBRIDGE, MA—On the heels of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent announcement of early elections in Israel, Tzipi Livni must have known that question was coming.
Headlining a panel discussion at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government Oct. 11, the former Israeli foreign minister and opposition leader was asked by an Israeli Harvard student if she is considering challenging Netanyahu in the upcoming election, set for Jan. 22, 2013.
Livni responded with a “no comment,” to the loud dismay of the crowd.
There has been rampant speculation surrounding Livni’s potential candidacy for prime minister. Much of this has been tied to the possible comeback of her former boss, Ehud Olmert, who was recently cleared of the corruption charges that led him to resign as prime minister in 2008. A recent poll featured in the Jerusalem Post revealed that a center-left party headlined by Olmert, Livni, current Kadima party leader Shaul Mofaz and popular former news anchor Yair Lapid would beat Netanyahu’s Likud party by a margin of four Knesset seats, 31-27, thereby winning the election.
Joining Livni on the Harvard panel were Retired Israeli Major General Amos Yadlin, former George W. Bush administration National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, and former U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy.
Livni, who has been highly critical of Netanyahu’s reported dispute with Obama over Iran, remarked that she “hates how Israel is on the political agenda” during this election season, in an apparent jab at speculation that Netanyahu is injecting himself into the race by favoring Republican Mitt Romney. She added that Israel “should remain a bipartisan issue.”