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Tzipi Livni loses Kadima leadership to ex-army chief Shaul Mofaz

Tzipi Livni has lost the chairmanship of Israel's largest party, Kadima, currently in opposition, to rival Shaul Mofaz after a bitterly fought primary contest.

Tzipi Livni kadima mofazEnlarge
Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni attends a protest against gender segregation and violence towards women by ultra Orthodox Jewish extremists on December 27, 2011 in the town of Beit Shemesh, near Jerusalem. (Gali Tibbon/AFP/Getty Images)

Tzipi Livni has lost the chairmanship of Israel's largest party, Kadima, currently in opposition, to rival Shaul Mofaz after a bitterly fought primary contest, the LA Times reported.

Mofaz, a former defense and military chief, won 62 percent of the vote, trouncing Tzipi Livni, who took 37 percent, with 41 percent of the party’s membership voting, the Kadima spokesman’s office said in an e-mailed statement cited by Bloomberg.

Mofaz has spoken confidently of beating Benjamin Netanyahu in national elections, currently scheduled for October 2013, according to the Associated Press.

The AP wrote that Mofaz was best known for his tough style as a military leader during the Palestinian uprising of the last decade, although in recent years he had "adopted a more statesmanlike approach," even proposing the immediate establishment of a provisional Palestinian state.

He has been quoted as saying Israel would attack Iran as a last resort if Tehran didn't abandon its suspected nuclear weapons program.

Mofaz failed in a previous challenge for Kadima's leadership, in 2008, and the LA Times wrote that the rivalry had "dogged the two — and the party — ever since."

Livni has reportedly not said whether she will stay with Kadima, which won the most seats in parliament in 2009 elections but could not form a governing coalition.

However, YNet news cited sources close to Livni as saying she would soon announce her retirement from politics.

"I'll see you sometime, somewhere," she reportedly told her supporters on Tuesday night after losing the vote.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/israel-and-palestine/120328/ex-army-chief-lead-israels-kadima