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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Mofaz and Livni to fight it out over Jerusalem?

The two leading candidates in the Kadima party primary to be held in September are Transportation Minister (and former Defense Minister and IDF Chief of Staff) Shaul Mofaz and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. They are neck and neck in all the polls, while the other two candidates - Avi Dichter and Meir Shitreet - are significantly behind them. Unless someone drops out and if current projections hold up, Livni and Mofaz are likely to meet in a runoff for the party leadership on or around September 25.

One of the key issues that divides Livni and Mofaz is Jerusalem. Livni has been leading the 'negotiations' with the 'Palestinian Authority' and is widely believed to have already promised the 'Palestinians' that Israel would agree to redivide the city. But on Tuesday, Mofaz officially announced his candidacy for the party leadership, and with the walls of Jerusalem's Old City as a backdrop, he announced that he will keep Jerusalem united.
"In this place, before the walls of the Old City, whose destruction we are marking these days, I promise to maintain a united Jerusalem as Israel's eternal capital," Mofaz said, referring to the traditional mourning period at the beginning of the Hebrew month of Av in which Jerusalem's destruction is commemorated.

Mofaz also said in the speech that he would seek peace, but warned of "dangerous illusions" that Israel's security threats were not pressing enough to require a leader with military experience.

His strategists said the location of the speech had been chosen to indicate that protecting Jerusalem was the prime minister's responsibility, but they recognized that the choice was also seen as a thinly veiled attack on Livni.
Ordinarily, I would have dismissed this as just another bit of politicking and making promises that a politician - in this case Mofaz - has no intention of keeping. But there's another party that is taking Mofaz's vow to keep Jerusalem united quite seriously: The 'Palestinian Authority.'
A victory by Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz in next month's Kadima Party leadership race would be a disaster for the peace process, senior Palestinian Authority officials say.

The officials said that an American-Palestinian plan for the continuation of the process is contingent on Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni winning the primary. A Mofaz victory, in contrast, would send the talks into a deep freeze, given his hawkish views.

Mofaz told his first formal campaign rally Tuesday that as prime minister, he would "preserve united Jerusalem as Israel's eternal capital."

To that, a senior PA official responded: "God have mercy" on the final-status talks if Mofaz wins the primary.
One of the rules of survival in the Middle East is that my enemy's enemy is my friend. Maybe it's time to get behind Mofaz.


At 5:02 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Shaul Mofaz is to be preferred over Tzipi Livni. Livni is Ehud Olmert in skirts. His statement is quite significant in view of Olmert's attempts to redivide Jerusalem. Those who love Israel should unite to keep Livni from getting the leadership of Kadima. If the Palestinians are worried about Mofaz, that's a good sign he's the best candidate out of a mediocre Kadima lot.

At 5:13 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

There's more. Mofaz has been in the forefront of the need to take the Iranian nuclear threat seriously. He has the military experience to focus on the threats that require the attention of Israel's next leader. Livni has none. The last thing Israel needs right now is another Prime Minister who buries the country's problems under the carpet in the name of putting his political survival first. After two years of a dithering and ineffectual Olmert, Israel needs someone who can get the job done. It may just be symbolism on Mofaz's part, but in the Middle East, the choice of where a politician telegraphs his messages from is telling. Keeping Jerusalem united is a only a but one of a raft issues that Israel will have to address if she is to survive but its a good beginning.

At 10:17 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


The problem is that if Mofaz wins, he stands a fair chance of forming a new coalition, which would leave us with the current Kadima-Labor dominated Knesset. If Livni wins, it is far less likely that she will be able to form a new coalition, and while we will have much more of Olmert as a caretaker Prime Minister, we will also have new elections sooner.

Mofaz is no saint either. He was the Defense Minister who evicted all the Jews from Gaza.


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