Friday, 1 August 2008

Olmert's Successor

Israeli leaders seem to have a short shelf-life and outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's time in the big chair will be remembered chiefly for the Lebanon conflict and the allegations of bribery, fraud and breach of trust that followed him around like a bad smell and ultimately led to his removal.
As with the American elections, whoever slips into the leaders seat next has implications far beyond its own borders with the most pressing items in their in-tray being the Iranian and Palestinian issues.
Olmert set in motion a series of negotiations aimed at cooling the threats along the nation's borders, most notably with Syria, yet continued to controversially fan the flames of world opinion by increasing the expansion of Jewish settlements on West Bank land claimed by the Palestinians for a future state.
With Olmert stepping down early, the opportunity to gain the leadership by taking control of the ruling Kadima Party is up for grabs which makes it a two horse race between Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and transportation minister Shaul Mofaz. If no clear winner emerges from that a general election will be held which would introduce a third candidate to the race in former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who would be clear favourite to win.
So which of these three would be the best bet for settling accounts with its many foes and head towards a more secure future.

Probably the worst choice would be Shaul Mofaz, the man who generated global headlines recently when he said it was "inevitable" that Israel would attack Iran's nuclear installations. Mofaz's previous outpourings include pledging no return of the Golan Heights to Syria, no division of Jerusalem and no territorial compromise with the Palestinians until they defeat "terrorism".
As the army's chief of staff, he was known for house demolitions in Palestine territory, and an unwillingness to negotiate with Palestinian groups.

Tzipi Livni supported decisions to withdraw Israeli troops from Gaza and led the latest peace talks with the Palestinian Authority. She talks of the need for a two-state solution and would be the most likely to continue the peace talks with Syria but she is certainly no dove, critisising the ceasefire with Hamas and demanding a military response to rockets fired from Gaza.

In his last stint as Prime Minister, Benyamin Netanyahu held peace talks with Yasser Arafat and turned over the West Bank city of Hebron to Palestinian jurisdiction. Like Olmert, he was forced from government by scandals and a corruption inquiry and is a strong opponent of Iran's pursuit of nuclear power and favours a military response, likening the Iranian regime to the Nazi party and accused them of being hell bent on starting a World War.

With Washington also installing a new leader in the next six months, the outcome of both these leadership battles will have great bearing for the Palestinians and International dealings with Iran. Anything other than Obama and Livni taking charge would be a disaster for everyone in that region and beyond and keep us on the same disastrous track that has bought so little reward.


David G said...

The answer will be shaped by which aspirant best serves the hegemonic ambitions of the American-Israeli alliance in their bid to control the economic resources and nations of the Middle East.

Nutanyahu would obviously be a favorite. Washington loves militarists!

Lucy said...

If it is McCain & Mofazor we may as well wave goodbye to Palestine now, they would be royally shafted. Livni is the lesser of three evils.