INSTANT VIEW: Reaction to Israeli vote to replace Olmert

Wed Sep 17, 2008 5:16pm EDT

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(Reuters) - Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni appeared to win an election on Wednesday to succeed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as leader of the ruling party, exit polls by major broadcasters showed.

The following is reaction from Israeli and Palestinian leaders and analysts:

CHIEF PALESTINIAN NEGOTIATOR AHMED QURIE

"Because Livni was immersed in the peace process, we believe she will pursue peace moves with us. We welcome the choice of the Israeli people."

RANAN GISSIN, AIDE TO FORMER ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER ARIEL

SHARON

"This is the beginning of a very arduous road to become prime minister. She (Livni) needs to reach a consensus at home because otherwise Kadima will fall apart at the seams.

"The challenge for Kadima is to stand on its own. Kadima was formed by Sharon. It is moulded after him. Now we've come to the next stage.

"You've got to form a coalition. This requires a government that can take decisions, that has a broad enough base, to take critical decisions that are facing Israel, whether it's war or peace.

"The question is whether she can form a stable coalition government that not only ensures Kadima stays in power but can use its power to enact policy."

DANI DAYAN, HEAD OF THE MAIN JEWISH SETTLERS ORGANISATION IN

THE OCCUPIED WEST BANK

"Livni's positions are no different from those of Olmert, and his government's political failings will continue if she becomes prime minister."

JONATHAN KATZ, ECONOMIST AT HSBC

"Livni will have to moderate her views and compromise. Because she is more left wing, that will make the coalition less stable and it increases the chances of early elections in early 2009.

"(Elections) are good from an economic point of view because instead of a shaky in-between government, we would get more economic reforms and maybe a more stable coalition."

SHMUEL SANDLER, PROFESSOR AT THE BEGIN-SADAT CENTRE FOR

STRATEGIC STUDIES

"(Livni) is a good choice as far as Israel's foreign relations are concerned, but there is still the tension with Iran. I am not so sure how much experience she has for such matters and if she will be able to take the right decisions.

"She (Livni) looks like 'Mrs Clean', which gave her impetus (in the elections) and the media was on her side. But she will still have to form a coalition.

"It is very difficult to predict whether she will be a strong prime minister. We will have to wait and see.

"In Washington they will be very pleased with this outcome."

SAEB EREKAT, PALESTINIAN NEGOTIATOR

"We hope once the dust settles in Israel -- whether it's a coalition government or new elections -- that the path to peace and the two-state solution will continue uninterrupted."

(Reporting by Adam Entous, Ori Lewis and Steve Scheer in Jerusalem; and Wafa Amr in Ramallah; Editing by Elizabeth Piper)

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