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Tag: Tzipi Livni (page 2 of 3)

Sarkozy to Bibi – Dump Lieberman

SarkozyReverberations are still being felt in Jerusalem following French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s remark to Israeli P.M. Binyamin Netanyahu to “get rid of your foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman immediately” in order to expect to have more amicable relations with the EU, as well as with the rest of world. Sarkozy’s immediate remark, made during a meeting of the leaders at Eleysee Palace in Paris, sent shock waves in Israeli government circles, especially within Lieberman’s own party, Israel Beitanu.

Things got so bad back in Israel that Israel Beitanu vice chairman, Uzi Landau, himself known for being a bit of a right-winger, was outraged and asked how the head of state of a country supposedly friendly with Israel could make such a statement regarding a high ranking Israeli cabinet official, especially the Foreign Minister. “It’s hard to believe that the head of a friendly government could make such remarks. If I had been present I would have banged my fist on the table in protest” Landau was reported as saying.

Sarkozy suggested to the P.M. that Kadima Party leader and former foreign minister Tzipi Livni would be much better choice for the position. The French President is reported to have gone on to say that remarks made by Lieberman in private “are much different than those he makes in public”.

Jean-Marie Le PenWhether Netanyahu takes this advice (said to have been “given from a friend”) to heart will be seen in the coming days. Lieberman’s appointment to the No. 2 government position was seen as a no-choice decision in light of Lieberman’s party garnishing 15 seats in the Knesset in the recent elections. Since Israeli governments are made up by building coalitions with other political parties, Lieberman’s party became the party of choice for Bibi’s Likud party, itself known for its right-of –center views. Netanyahu had offered to form a government with Kadima (now in Opposition), but Kadima Party head Livni rejected the idea as it would have made her party still playing “second fiddle” to the likud – even though Kadima won more seats in parliament than the Likud did.

Meanwhile, Kadima’s second in command, Shaul Mofaz, has been talking about calling a special meeting within his party to circumvent Livni and agree to join Netanyahu’s government –on condition that Bibi replaces Israel Beitanu with Kadima, of course, and perhaps even appoint Mofaz to be either foreign or defense minister (resulting in having to oust Labor Party head Ehud Barak from his cabinet seat in the process, with the result of the Labor Party leaving the government as well).

Getting back to Messier Sarkozy, he even said that French ultra right wing party leader Jean-Marie Le-Pen “is much more pleasant in private than Lieberman”.

We coulda told ya so!

Obama Meeting PA HeadNobody needs to be political genius to figure out which way the wind is blowing in regards to how the Obama Administration is formulating its Middle East policies; especially those regarding Israel. The “two state solution”, settlement freeze, and apparent warming up to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is a sobering indication that Israel will not get the same treatment from Washington that was received during the Bush Administration. And for sure, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will not be so close to the Netanyahu government in Jerusalem as Condoleezza Rice was.

Obama and his Ivy League foreign policy gurus have given the Israeli government a two year deadline to prepare for the reality of Palestinian statehood, and that includes an immediate freeze to all settlement activity in the West Bank, including, we presume, such Jerusalem suburbs as Maale Adumim, now regarded as the largest Jewish town in the West Bank. The new US policy decisions include an immediate dismantling of a number of “outpost settlements” which although considered as illegal during the Bush Administration were allowed to remain in place – most of them that is.

The big issue now is just which ones are considered to be outpost settlements and which will not? Will Alfe Menashe (a settlement near the Israeli city of Kfar Saba and virtually alongside the Palestinian city of Kalkilia) be slated for dismantlement, as well as ones like Tekoa (in the Gush Etzion Bloc) also fall within this definition?
And let’s not forget ones like the small Jewish presence in Hebron, virtually surrounded by nearly 200,000 Palestinians. The list goes on and on.

From a political standpoint, things might have been a bit more flexible under a Kadima Party government headed by Tzipi Livni; but the Israeli way of putting ruling coalition governments together determined a different political path, as the Likud party’s right winged political friends, lined up on Netanyahu’s side, along with Labor Party leader Ehud Barak, who broke a long standing political philosophy to go “right of center” and join up with such people as Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beitanu Party.

That’s not the way things turned out, and as a result, the “winds of change” blowing eastward from the U.S. Capital appear to be a bit on the chilly side. For all of us living here in the Levant, let’s hope that the chilly winds from Washington don’t turn into hot winds blowing from either the North (Lebanon), Northeast (Syria) or especially from the East (Teheran), as well as from our Palestinian “neighbors” in Gaza and possibly later on, the West Bank.

Political Shakshuka the new Israeli Government

Israel finally has a new government, 30 ministers and 7 assistant ministers in all. It appears that the new prime minister (or should I say renewed P.M.) and none other than Bibi Netanyahu, had to give out a lot of new jobs to a lot of new people just to satisfy them, including those from political parties whose overall platforms Bibi and his Likud Party doesn’t usually agree with.

Liberman GladiatorThe new government, when sitting for their first photo session on Wednesday April 1, which was also April Fools Day, looked more like that Middle Eastern tomato and egg dish known as Shakshuka. In fact many observers are calling the new government just that – a “political Shakshuka” of people who ordinarily are screaming at each other during parliamentary sessions, or just ignoring each other at best. Bibi had to really throw a political bone to his new foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, whose Israel Our Home Party managed to get 15 Knesset seats in the February 11 election. Lieberman didn’t waste any time in announcing that he would not allow any of the West Bank to be given away to the Palestinians, and does not agree to a peace deal with them. I’m not referring at all to that bunch of low life’s in the Gaza Strip, but to that “other bunch” who sit in Yassir Arafat’s old headquarters in Ramalla.

For those of you not aware, Shakshuka is a tasty dish made by throwing red peppers, tomato sauce, eggs, an a number of spices into a pan and cooking them together for about half an hour. This mixture of ingredients has caused the dish to be named as such; Shakshuka, meaning a mishmash of things thrown together.

Poor Tzipi Livni, now Head of the Opposition, has to sit this one out like Bibi did the last go-around when the Likud only managed to get 11 seats. Now it’s her turn to pout, and many are wondering if her Kadima Party might wind up going into melt-down like Tommy Lapid’s Shinui (Change) party did a few years back. Golda Meir she isn’t, but I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of her, and she may even wind up getting the last laugh, when this new government of strange bedfellows finds out they really can’t function as a team. Her image as foreign minister was surely a lot better than this Russian guy who has given Israeli Arabs an ultimatum to “shit or get off the pot”, meaning they better start packing if they aren’t prepared to give a loyalty oath to the Jewish State in which they live.

Other new cabinet members, especially those “good old boys” who have been intensely loyal to Mr. Netanyahu in his darkest moments, have been rewarded; especially Dr. Yuval Steinitz, who appears to be about as qualified for his post as Amir Peretz was as defense minister under the first part of the Olmert regime. But that’s the spoils system for you as has often been the case in American politics as well.

We’ll all have to see whether this new “shakshuka” aspect of Israeli political life will work out. At least one silver lining is already apparent in this possible cloud: a guy named Ehud Olmert is no longer presiding over the entire mess.

Rumors of Dream Coalition

Rumors are flying high in the media that Binyamin Netanyahu might ditch Avigdor Lieberman in favor of Tzipi Livni’s Kadima party. As unlikely as it seems right now, it is a scenario most Israelis would rather see.

Choosing Livni over Lieberman presumably means the formation of a rotating government, in which Netanyahu would be Prime Minister for 2 or 3 years, and Livni would replace him as Prime Minister for another year or two.

To me it seems like a high-risk poker game. The two possible scenarios are vastly different, and it is up to one man and one man only to choose among the two. Just like a suspenseful Tribe Council in the reality hit “Survivor”, Netanyahu is the factor that tips the scales, and whichever name he writes on the parchment, this moment is the season’s strategic cliffhanger.

Waltz with Bashir and the 18th Israeli Knesset

Regrettably, Ari Folman’s animated doco-fantasy film “Waltz with Bashir” didn’t win the Best Foreign Film at the 2009 Academy Awards presentation in Hollywood. With just a month passing after winning the Golden Globes film award, the American film industry second biggest awards extravaganza, hope had been high that Folman’s film would pull it off, especially due to its strong anti-war message. But Folman and his crew of animators, writers, artists and other team players had to sit by and see the Japanese film, Departures, win the coveted Oscar.

Waltz With Bashir

In a way, this event displays similarities to the results of the recent parliamentary election in which Tzipi Livni’s Kadima party managed to edge out over the rival Likud party, headed by Binyamin (Bibi) Netanyahu. Even though Kadima managed to gain more seats (actually 1 more) than Bibi’s party did, the Likiud has been given the nod by Israeli President Shimon Peres to form the next coalition government. Bibi’s right-of-center party has a lot of friends in the Knesset, including the right winged “Israel Beitenu” party, headed by Avigdor Lieberman, and the ultra-right winged “Ihud Leumi” (National Union) party headed by Benny Alon. The Likud party’s ideologies also make it easier to bring at least two religious political parties, “Shas” and “Ha-Bayit Ha-Ye’udi” (Jewish Home) into its fold as well, to guarantee enough Knesset seats to form the next government. Livni’s center movement party can only hope to pick up some of the left winged parties such as the now deflated Labor Party, headed by Ehud Barak, and others such as Meretz – a very left-winged party formerly headed by such liberals as Yossi Sarid and Dr. Yossi Beilin.

And just like the character in Waltz had to cope with life in Israel in the aftermath of the war, so does Livni and her party have to cope with the aftermath of both the 2006 Second Lebanon War (in which her party, headed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, was accused of committing a number of blunders) and the just completed Operation Cast Lead foray in Gaza. Netanyahu has the advantage of being able to use the security element to convince parties with similar ideologies to join up with him and control Israeli politics for the next 4 year period; or until another election is held, as has been too often the case.

Israeli politics sometimes create strange bedfellows, however, and Tzipi may decide in the end that discretion is the better part of valor and decide to join Bibi’s governing coalition. If this happens she will get her “waltz” in the end; but the question will be with whom she winds up dancing with.

All Eyes Turn to Peres

Tomorrow, Wednesday evening, at 6 pm Jerusalem Time, President Shimon Peres will receive the official results of the general elections, which took place last week. These results will include all the votes, including the soldiers’ ballots.

Peres’ decision won’t be an easy one. Neither candidate — Binyamin Netanyahu nor Tzipi Livni — has so far managed to garner the necessary support of 61 Knesset members. Some media commentators even say jokingly(?!) that we might need to redo the elections!

So who is it going to be? Tzipi or Bibi? Too bad Mr. Obama is already taken.

Shimon Peres' Hard Choices

Tzipi Livni womanhood in Israeli politics

Livni in The Uman in Tel AvivA little while ago the US showed the world that it can reinvent itself just when we thought we knew everything about them. A black man was elected to president. I still remember the Eddy Murphy comedy show Delirious where he makes fun with the notion of a black president. A president that would have to make his speeches while running to avoid getting shot… And yet, there he is. Obama is the President.

Now in Israel it seems like we are not quite there. Yes, this is a generally forward thinking society BUT (insert big but here..) there are actually political figureheads/political parties that feel that politics is no place for a woman. This is to the extent that if you were to look at the election posters in Jerusalem where all three candidates are showing, the face of Tzipi Livni has been erased.. To remind you the year is 2009!

Now this goes beyond the religious parties which like there Iranian counterparts are fanatics. This extends to the mainstream. When it comes to discussing the issues and facing a woman in the race, the gender card will ultimately be used by any of the “modern thinking” leaders as well. It will just be better disguised.

Given that we are a testosterone driven society. We are faced with 10 flavors of death in any direction, but still. Wouldn’t the job of a good prime minister be putting together the right team? Would it not be possible for a woman to run Israel?

Livni recently went for the young vote with her campaign. She did the Tel Aviv bar/club circuit trying to get the young vote. She recently has invested more in getting the undecided women vote and sounded good in front of the women’s conference in Herzelia. I heard some of the speech and she sounded comfortable and energetic. I didn’t like the way she sounded when she was in some of the other venues and in Knesset. She got a heavy, old political guy tone to her that just sounded tired and almost forced. Like someone who has to make them sound like an old experienced political horse, something she isn’t and shouldn’t be. I think sounding like a modern, smart, leading woman in this election is the way to go.

I don’t think Tzipi Livni will win this election although she seems to be moving forward in the poles. The assumption is that Bibi and the Likud will take it and then form a coalition with one of the top three mainstream parties, maybe the religious as well. I would like to see her in there though and wish her the best of luck. It would be nice…

This is Livni on the Lior Shlein show (Night Show)



The main election issues in Israel

Avigdor Liberman

Parliamentary elections are only a few days away, and ongoing pre-election polls are trying to determine what the most important issues are in regards to which political party, or parties, in Israel’s usual governmental coalition formations afterwards will wind up forming the next government.

livniIn the aftermath of the just completed 22 day military operations in Gaza, and the continued firing of rockets and mortars into Israel by Hamas and other Palestinian extremists, it would appear that the security issue is the one that will be on the top list of most voters when they step into voting booths on February 10. The problems dealing with the country’s security, especially for Israelis living in Israel’s southern regions and northern areas near Lebanon, as well as the problem of dealing with Iran and its nuclear program; has resulted in parties like Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitanu gaining so much in the pre-election opinion polls.

barakSecurity is a very important issue, and will always be so in a country still largely surrounded by hostile enemies. But as important as this issue may be, there are many others that need the most urgent attention. And two of these issues are the country’s dire water problem and the economic recession that the country’s population is now “officially” immersed in. Both of issues are none-the-less serious than the security one, and may even be eventually more difficult to deal with.

The water problem, or it’s increasingly lack of, is a very major concern due to one of the driest winters in the country’s history; which follows a number of below-average rainy seasons that has brought the current water in the Kinneret as well as the mountain and coastal aquifers to levels so low that it will soon reach an irreversible state. Apparent lack of proper government attention to this problem has resulted in a state where water may have to be actually imported in large quantities just to satisfy the population’s basic household needs. Much of this problem could have been averted years ago if enough emphasis had been put on building desalinization plants along Israel’s Mediterranean coastline. Although a few of these plants were built, such as the one in Ashdod, at least 20 more should have been constructed. An example of how some countries have solved their water problems by desalinization is how Persian Gulf Emirate countries have been able to build beautiful futuristic cities which have virtually all their fresh water needs supplied by this method. One Emirate state, Dubai, even constructed a ski slope within an ultra-modern shopping and entertainment complex. Had Israeli governmental authorities followed this example Israel might now have at least 30-50% of its water needs supplied this way.

bibiThe other major problem deals with the state of the economy, in which thousands of people, many of them engaged in technology based industries, are now unemployed and having to look for any kind of work just to put food on the table for their families. Although the world economic crises, which began in the U.S.A. several months ago, is not of Israel’s making the result has created a recession which is most likely to worsen before it gets better. The weaker elements of society, especially the old, the disabled, and the poorer sectors of the population, are suffering the most as they had virtually no reserves to fall back on even before the stock markets began to crash. Lowering prime interest rates to all time levels (now at 1%) doesn’t help much if one has no money to spend anyway. And Israel’s dependence on exporting goods and services to certain economically stressed markets, like the U.S.A., has resulted in a sharp reduction of cash flow to most companies, not to mention small businesses.

Taking all of these issues into account, there will be a lot of things on peoples’ minds on Tuesday when they vote to elect their country’s leadership for the next few years.

They Told Me There Was a Debate Yesterday

I woke up this morning and read the news. Apparently there had been a televised debate on Channel 2 last night, between the three major contestants for the PM seat: Binyamin Netanyahu, Tzipi Livni, and Ehud Barak. Despite being a longtime advocate of such a debate — and as a self-admitted news junkie — I had no idea such an event was taking place last night.

Hosted by Dana Weiss, the so-called debate was in fact a condensed version of three separate mock interviews, where fierce journalistic inquiries were replaced by relatively dull questions submitted by internet surfers via YouTube. In other words, Livni, Bibi, and Barak weren’t debating each other. They weren’t even debating Dana Weiss. They simply answered questions for people who weren’t there in the studio!

Again, since I wasn’t aware of this “debate” last night, I hadn’t watched it, and this account of events is based on news reports who have dryly mentioned the televised spectacle this morning. To my defense, I can say that I knew of such a debate being in consideration, yet personally I didn’t catch any pre-event promos or sensed any hype about it, neither in the blogosphere, on the radio, or in the printed media. I don’t watch televised news much, so I can’t really tell whether this was promoted in advance by Channel 2 itself — though I assume it was.

They told me there was a debate yesterday. So much for a debate.

YouTube Interview

YouTube Interview

What’s Up With Olmert?

According to leading commentators, both Minister of Defense Ehud Barak and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni are in favor of pulling the IDF out of Gaza. They understand that there’s nothing more to gain from staying in enemy territory, and that it only puts our soldiers’ lives at risk.

On the other hand, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert wants to go in deeper.

Three political opponents, who admittedly can’t stand each other, are running a war together, just one month before the general elections. Each has his or her own personal and political interests.

However, there is one person who stand outs in this odd trio. Mr. Olmert is a man with no political future whatsoever. This is as clear as the morning sky in July. He is the only Prime Minister in Israel’s history whose government has had to tackle two separate war campaigns. When he leaves office, there are several corruption allegations that await him impatiently. It is already known for a fact that he will be prosecuted — Perhaps more than once.

The longer the war continues, more and more voices — both in the media and in the Knesset — are calling to postpone the elections. The one person who might gain the most if such a scenario takes place is obviously Ehud Olmert. The prospect of a few more months in power — and a few more months out of the courtroom — could definitely alter any person’s sound judgment.

These are mere speculations of course. It’s inappropriate to lay down such serious accusations without any evidence. There is only a restless gut feeling… and some very bizarre comments made by PM Olmert himself.

During a press conference yesterday, Mr. Olmert boasted in front of the cameras how he had managed to subdue America’s Secretary of State, and how President Bush promptly agreed to abandon the podium in the middle of a speech in order to pick up Olmert’s call.

“I said: ‘Get me President Bush on the phone,'” Olmert said in a speech in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon. “They said he was in the middle of giving a speech in Philadelphia. I said I didn’t care: ‘I need to talk to him now.’ He got off the podium and spoke to me.”

Olmert said he argued that the United States should not vote in favor, and the president then called Rice and told her not to do so.

“She was left pretty embarrassed,” Olmert said.

   – Associated Press

Another childish remark soon followed this self-accounted tale of international diplomacy. “In this struggle between the Hamas and us, we shall see who has the bigger motivation!”, he said firmly.

Yes, our Prime Minister is busy comparing who has the bigger… hmm… missiles.

Ask the Candidates

For the very first time in Israeli history(?), ordinary people get the chance to submit questions to the major candidates who compete for the Prime Minister seat.

YouTube — the video sharing hub, owned by Google — is holding an open contest, in which everyone is encouraged to submit a video footage of themselves raising a question for one of the candidates.

Who’s Afraid of Debating?

During a speech yesterday, Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni invited Ehud Barak and Binyamin Netanyahu to an impromptu debate. Both her opponents, who were sitting in the audience, declined her surprise invitation.

However, the Avoda (Israeli Labor Party) was quick to respond, and this morning it came out with its own invitation for a series of 3 public debates between the 3 main party leaders.

Will Livni show its seriousness to debate? Or was it a hollow political trick?

Israelis deserve a debate!

Livni? I Don’t Believe Her

Tzipi Livni and her Kadima party launched a fierce campaign against Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu, in which black billboard ads cry out “Bibi? I Don’t Believe Him.”

Well, personally, I might not believe him — but I sure as hell don’t believe Tzipi any better. She has always been muddy in her agenda, and faint in general. Recently, she began “shooting in all directions”, under the guidance of her media consultants. There are lots of “puppet politicians” in Israel and abroad, but no one has even been so apparent as Tzipi Livni.

Today she denied UN official Prof. Richard Falk from entering Israel, after the Jewish-American Law expert arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport. If it hadn’t been an election period, she wouldn’t have done it.

Israeli Politicians in Quotes

Have you heard about Google’s “In Quotes” service? It was launched two months ago, primarily aimed at helping the American voters find relevant information about the Presidential candidates.

However, the In Quotes database contain quotes by Israeli politicians as well, and it’s very interesting to take a look at what the two leading party leaders, Tzipi Livni and Benjamin Netanyahu, have to say about some of the hot topics that bother Israeli people.

Click on the screenshot below to enlarge the picture, or go directly to Tzipi Livni quotes page, or to Benjamin Netanyahu quotes page.

Transit Governments

  • Tzipi Livni has decided last night to forego her last attempts in assembling a parliamentary coalition. This means we’re heading into general elections within 3 to 4 months, probably somewhere in middle February 2009.
  • Municipal elections in Israel are slated for November 11.
  • While the US Presidential elections are due November 4.
  • On top of it all, Abu Mazen, president of the Palestinian Authority, is ending his term in office come January. Hamas has already declared that his people will not regarded Abu Mazzen as a legitimate president if the dejected man decides to remain in office despite the deadline. If such a scenario materializes — and there is high probability it will — then the West Bank might turn into a bloodbath between Fatah and Hamas.

Back to Olmert… As the head of a transit government, he has no public mandate to craft new policies or to resume diplomatic negotiations, yet nevertheless he is still Prime Minister for at least 3 more months.

And as of today he has to deal not only with the Iranian threat, the financial crisis, and the possibility of a looming chaos in the West Bank; but also with the growing tensions between the Settlers and the Israeli army.

If you haven’t heard yet, the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) dismantled tonight a tiny unauthorized settlement outside of Hebron — that belonged to far-right-extremist Noam Federman. As a result, several people in the Jewish Settlers community called out to kill Israeli soldiers as retaliation!

Despite his lack of public or parliamentary support, and while several indictments are awaiting him in court, he has to face the threats of both a Palestinian civil conflict as well as a Jewish civil conflict.

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