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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Livni's rebellion

Even Haaretz doesn't understand the significance of the article they are publishing in their weekend magazine. If they had, they would have headlined it as I did above and not as they did: Livni behind closed doors: Iran nuke poses little threat to Israel. It will be interesting to see why Livni thinks Iran's nukes don't threaten Israel, but I have to say at the outset that I disagree with her on that point. The one-page preview that Haaretz put up today is much juicier than that.

Back when the Winograd Commission's preliminary report came out in April, Foreign Minister Tzipi Feigele Livni was quick to call on Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert to resign. So quick that she didn't even wait for the report to come out. Olmert managed to dodge that bullet, and has remained in power, and Livni seemingly went back to the foreign ministry to lick her wounds and regroup. She's been relatively quiet since then. What tomorrow's article shows is that she never went back to regroup and that she's been rebelling against Olmert the entire time. With tomorrow's article, that rebellion comes out into the open.
The article also reveals for the first time a document Livni prepared and sent to Olmert a few months after the Second Lebanon War proposing a new division of labor between the two. "Enclosed is a proposal for work procedures between us, with the aim of providing an answer to Israel's strategic needs and facilitating early planning and the formulation of coordinated Israeli positions ... within the framework of cooperative relations, full transparency and continuous mutual updates," wrote Livni.

She described in the document a number of required arrangements: "The prime minister and the foreign minister will hold regular work meetings at least once a week." In an allusion to her absence form critical discussions during the war in Lebanon, she wrote: "The foreign minister will be invited to meetings with the prime minister on security matters and other meetings with serious implications."
As I re-read those two paragraphs, I am reminded of the part of The King and I, where Deborah Kerr, playing the children's nanny, attempts to impose order on the life of Yul Brynner playing the King. The difference of course was that Kerr recognized she can never win. Livni still thinks she can win.

What's described by Haaretz fits right in with Livni's attempt to absolve herself of blame for last summer's war in her testimony before the Winograd Commission.
The foreign minister also described the escalating tensions between her and the prime minister. She recalled how Olmert, during a security cabinet meeting centered around discussing the widening military operation, ignored her suggestions, and how her relationship with the prime minister suffered as a result.

"During the meeting, I was at a point where I felt I was barely being heard," Livni said. "When I began to speak, the prime minister would suddenly start speaking to the chief of general staff or somebody, and I stopped what I was saying."

The prime minister, Livni said, told her to continue. When she asked Olmert to listen to what she was saying, the prime minister responded by saying he was listening "to every word, and even to every vibration."

Livni pointed out several times throughout her testimony how she tried to push for acceptance of her policy, and described how it was ignored. "The military operation cannot return the soldiers. It can pulverize Hizbullah, but at a certain point there won't be high-quality targets and there will be no hope for the operation," the foreign minister told the committee.

"Therefore the timing is crucial, right now the operation is a military one, but its end will be a diplomatic one."
In other words, the more things change, the more they stay the same. The fact that Livni gave an interview that resulted in this article shows that she's still rebelling - and has been all along.

I have said before that Prime Minister Livni would be a disaster for Israel. The worst possible outcome of the current morass in which we find ourselves would be for Olmert to resign and Livni to take over while leaving the current Knesset intact. Well, maybe not the worst. Kadima Achora or Labor winning the next election would be worse. But those are less likely scenarios.

And Olmert's resignation now becomes a less likely scenario too. Olmert has a huge ego. In light of her rebellion, he will do everything he can to keep Livni from replacing him. Including taking Kadima Achora down with him.

The light at the end of the tunnel just got brighter.


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