Israeli ex-leaders discussing campaign to defeat Netanyahu

JERUSALEM Wed Oct 31, 2012 3:41pm EDT

Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni (L) attend the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem March 29, 2009. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni (L) attend the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem March 29, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Ronen Zvulun

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Former leaders Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni announced on Wednesday they were discussing a partnership that could shake up Israeli politics and lead to a joint campaign to defeat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a January election.

Olmert, a centrist, was forced to quit as prime minister in 2008 over corruption charges of which he was largely acquitted.

Were he to make a comeback, he is seen as possibly the most likely candidate to beat Netanyahu, the right-wing Likud party leader, who polls now predict will win re-election.

Livni, who quit the centrist Kadima party in March after a failed leadership contest and headed Middle East peace talks which deadlocked months after Netanyahu took office, is also seen as a strong potential contender for Israel's January 22 race.

A statement from an aide to Olmert said he and Livni had agreed "action must be taken to change the leadership", citing what it called "Israel's deteriorated status" under Netanyahu. It alluded to tensions with the United States about how to rein in Iran's nuclear program and diplomatic paralysis with the Palestinians.

Both agreed to continue meeting and a confidant who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed Israeli media reports that they were weighing the prospect of a joint election run. A Livni aide also confirmed these talks took place.

It was not clear whether the pair would join one of Israel's center or left-leaning parties, or form their own.

Olmert and Livni once headed the centrist Kadima party, whose popularity has nosedived under their successor, former general Shaul Mofaz.

Founded by former prime minister Ariel Sharon, the party is now predicted to win only a handful of seats in parliament in the coming election, latest surveys show.

But Olmert and Livni may seek to tap into dissatisfaction among moderates in Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party over Netanyahu's union this week with far-right Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, now running jointly in the coming election.

Despite the critics, the latest polls show Netanyahu winning as many as 42 seats in Israel's 120-member parliament which would assure him of heading the country's next coalition government.

(Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan; editing by Andrew Roche)

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Comments (4)
Olmert and Livni are somewhat of a threat to world peace than the current extremist Netanyahu/Lieberman administration. However, whether Likud or Kadima, neither has the integrity to conform to international law and to dismantle the illegal settlements in the West Bank and to stop the forced evictions of Arab families from East Jerusalem.

These illegal settlements will be the spark that eventually sets the entire Middle East alight and will lead the world into nuclear war.

Unless and until the Israeli government learns to respect human and civil rights, the declaration of the UN and the wishes of the EU, Britain, France and Germany, then there will be no peace but only bloodshed and war. Until that time, all bilateral trade by the EU with Israel should be discontinued.

Oct 31, 2012 6:18pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
rgbviews wrote:
Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic will not cut it. It will take an attitudinal change in the Israeli public. Let’s hope they come to respect international law and accept international norms for human rights, before it’s too late.

Oct 31, 2012 11:00pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Unfortunately, this maverick Israeli government has placed itself outside the family of democratic states by its contempt for international law and the authority of the UN.

Human and civil rights are integral planks of the democratic process. Once these are ignored or taken away – in this case from 5 million Palestinians – then the state becomes the perpetrator of harassment, humiliation, forced evictions, illegal land expropriation and ultimately state sponsored torture and killings.

Nov 01, 2012 6:11am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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