Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Oct. 28: Israel's Tzipi Livni Showed Political Courage

By Sylvia Gurinsky

How many times does a politician make the honest choice instead of the expedient one? Not often.

Certainly, it would have been a lot easier for Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the new head of the Kadima party, to give in to the demands of Shas and other right-wing parties and say Jerusalem wouldn't be a negotiating point in future peace talks, become prime minister, form a government and say later that she'd changed her mind.

Instead, Livni was honest. She said she could not rule out Jerusalem as a negotiating point, and thus could not form a government in order to become prime minister of Israel now. Therefore, it looks like Israeli President Shimon Peres will call elections next February.

Early polls were expected to heavily favor former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the head of the Likud party. But a surprise emerged: Israeli polls have Livni slightly ahead of Netanyahu at this point. They also say if the election took place today, neither person would have the party seats needed to become prime minister without forming a coalition with other parties. There is also always another factor: Ehud Barak, the Labor Party leader and another former prime minister.

Think the U.S. presidential election has been interesting? Take a look at what's about to happen in Israel. And it will happen because of Livni, who added one more reason Israelis call her "Mrs. Clean."

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