IT was characteristic of the woman who may become Israel’s next prime minister that she should seek down-to-earth comforts last week as voting returns in the ruling Kadima party’s leadership election showed her early lead slipping away. Surrounded by worried relatives and supporters, Tzipi Livni ordered take-away chips and fried onions.
As the tension increased in the early hours of the morning, she sang along to her parents’ old records, anthems of the ultra-nationalist Jewish resistance to British troops who policed Palestine in the 1940s. The songs were reminders that Livni, the foreign minister until she either puts together a governing coalition or faces elections, comes from a family of fighters.
Her father Eitan was the operations chief of Irgun, the most extreme of the Jewish groups that fought the British. He was in prison in 1946 when Irgun blew up the British headquarters in the King David hotel in Jerusalem, killing 91 people. Her mother Sarah was also an Irgun guerrilla.
Livni was nurtured on the Zionist dream of “Eretz Israel”, the biblical land of Israel that includes the West Bank.