With the latest poll from Israel’s Channel 2 showing a 12 seat gap between the Likud and Kadima Parties, the perception is that Netanyahu’s pro-war rhetoric and the taint of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni’s perceived involvement in the peace process with the Palestinian Authority are the deciding factor in next month’s elections. Both sides made similar comments today: one trying to shore up his image as a hawk and the other trying to shed her image as a slightly less hawkish hawk.
In a speech at Tel Aviv-Jaffa College, Livni condemned reports of concessions she and Olmert allegedly jointly made during the peace process. “The headline does not represent me or what I am advancing,” Livni insisted, saying that her agenda was to maximize the number of Jewish residents in the West Bank and “not allowing the return of a single refugee.” Livni has also reportedly accused Prime Minister Olmert of deliberately undermining her campaign by trying to link her to the peace process.
Not to be outdone, frontrunner Benjamin Netanyahu declared Olmert’s understandings with the Palestinians “invadlid and unimportant” and promised not to keep Olmert’s commitments to evacuate settlements. Netanyahu has accused Livni of attempting to give up Jerusalem, and said that on the contrary his party will never agree to a return to the 1967 borders or allowing any division of Jerusalem.