October 26, 2008
Chance for Netanyahu as Livni talks collapse (Ben Lynfield, 27 October 2008 , Independent)
Claiming Kadima had "proven it does what is right", Ms Livni must now do battle with Mr Netanyahu, who brought the Oslo peace process to a near-halt as prime minister from 1996 to 1999. He has not softened his views since then. They are level in the personal popularity stakes but the right-wing bloc Mr Netanyahu heads is leading in the polls.
Analysts expect the campaign to focus on security. "Generally, people today understand the depth of hostility towards Israel but on the other hand, the belief in Greater Israel is over. If she can prove she is aware of the dangers but at the same time bring a secure settlement, that will help her a lot," said Avraham Diskin, a political scientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, voiced concern that Israel's political turmoil would damage the peace process. "Time is precious. The next few months could be wasted because of new elections and US elections," he said. And Hamas, which controls Gaza, called the snap elections "a slap in the face to those seeking a peace settlement".
Ms Livni served as a chief negotiator during US-sponsored peace talks, relaunched last November.
If she wins, Ms Livni will be the first Israeli woman premier since Golda Meir. She has said repeatedly she supports a Palestinian state. She believes it is in Israel's interest because annexing the West Bank Palestinian population would call into question Israel's demographic character as a Jewish state. Her opponent's likely approach is shown in Likud's campaign posters for next month's Jerusalem municipal elections. They show an earnest-looking Mr Netanyahu, and promise Likud will "safeguard Jerusalem".
Parliamentary elections had not been due until 2010. Commentators have identified 17 February as a likely date. Until then, Mr Olmert will stay in office. "It is not a happy announcement," the Prime Minister said about Ms Livni's decision.
Couldn't he have gotten a couple years in office while W was in charge? Posted by Orrin Judd at October 26, 2008 8:12 PM