Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Israel's Leadership Under Hot Debate

With Israeli Prime Minister Olmert stepping down amid numerous accusations of bribery, Kadima party leadership is now being debated. Olmert vowed that he would resign as soon as a new leader of his party was chosen. The winner of that primary will then be named Prime Minister.

One of the frontrunners for party leadership is Shaul Mofaz, a native of Iran, who recently denounced his home country as "the root of all evil" and hinted at the ever-present option of attacking Iran to stop its nuclear enrichment.

He then pledged to oversee peace talks with the Palestinians personally and vowed he would produce actual results.

In Haaretz:
"I have more years of experience than others. I will give the negotiations with the Palestinians utmost priority. I will do my best to advance them and to achieve results, and that's a promise. I will put all of my weight behind it and will deal with it personally," he said.

"They know me, after all," Mofaz continued, "Abu Mazen [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas], [Palestinian Authority Prime Minister] Salam Fayyad and [PA chief negotiator] Saeb Erekat. They'll say that everything I promised, I delivered. True, I don't go easy in negotiations, I'm not a man of words - I'm a man of actions and I promise to bring results. It won't happen in two days and maybe not in a year, but there will be results."
Then he continued to blather on in a very convincing fashion about why the peace talks are important.
"For years I experienced the hardship of war, the suffering of battles and the loss of friends, subordinates and commanders .... Kadima under my leadership will continue the path of previous prime ministers who worked to bring peace and security for Israel," Mofaz said.
But then the Palestinian Authority issued a statement about Mofaz's candidacy that makes me think he doesn't know what he's talking about. Just maybe.

In a Haaretz article titled, "PA: Mofaz as head of Kadima would be disaster for peace":
A victory by Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz in next month's Kadima Party leadership race would be a disaster for the peace process, senior Palestinian Authority officials say.

The officials said that an American-Palestinian plan for the continuation of the process is contingent on Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni winning the primary. A Mofaz victory, in contrast, would send the talks into a deep freeze, given his hawkish views.
But in a dangled carrot, the newspaper does reveal an opportunity for Israel and the PA to help each other:
The Saudi newspaper Al-Watan reported Tuesday that a list of the Palestinians Abbas wants released, which also includes many others of the longest-serving prisoners, was given to Livni during her meetings in Washington with the head of the PA negotiating team, Ahmed Qureia. Qureia told Livni that the release of these prisoners would play an important role in bolstering the PA's status among the general Palestinian public.
I think it was Sun Tzu or some other Chinese genius who said that you cannot win without helping your opponent save face. And here Israel has an opportunity to do just that. The question is whether the cries of the right wing warhawks will drown out the logic speaking quietly from inside this option.

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