May 31, 2008

The following five excerpts from Israeli News sources present a good synopsis of the future Israeli elections.

A Ma’ariv poll showed that if elections were held now, a Binyamin Netanyahu-led Likud would win 30 mandates, a Livni-led Kadima would get 25 and Labor would win 18.

Begin YNet News Excerpt

Netanyahu: Elections needed to safeguard Gola

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‘God willing, in the upcoming elections we will ensure (Israel’s) sovereignty over Jerusalem and the Golan,

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‘ opposition leader says

Ynet News

“I believe that the way to protect the Golan Heights and the Jordan Valley is to go to early elections,” Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday.

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Speaking at a Likud party event held in the Golan, Netanyahu said that “God willing, in the upcoming elections we will ensure (Israel’s) sovereignty over Jerusalem and the Golan.

“What do you find when you dig (into the soil) in the Golan? Syrian ruins? No. You’ll find dozens of magnificent synagogues and remnants of (Jewish) communities,” he said. “The Israeli nation has been connected to the Golan for thousands of years.

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The Golan always was and always will remain Israeli.”

The Likud chairman continued to say that “before we liberated the Golan 41 years ago, they were on the mountain and we were in the valley; they fired on us for 19 years, and one day we put a stop to it.

“Standing here one can clearly see that the Golan is essential to Israel’s security and deterrence – today more than ever before in light of the rise of Iran and its affiliates,” he said.

Netanyahu warned that Syria’s ties to Iran were only growing stronger. “Only a few days ago Syrian and Iranian defense ministers signed a new defense cooperation pact, and still there are those who suggest we hand over the Golan to Syria and Iran.

“The region is the single largest buffer zone that is preventing any possibility of an invasion into our small country,” he added.

Begin Jerusalem Post Excerpt

Ramon: General elections will likely be held by November Staff, THE JERUSALEM POST

May 30, 2008

Vice Premier Haim Ramon said Friday he believed general elections would be held in Israel by November of this year.

Speaking at a conference at the Washington Institute, Ramon said: “The US will hold elections in November, and it is probable that Israel will hold elections in November.”

“For this reason,” he added, “both administrations must review what has been achieved between Israel and the Palestinians and present these agreements to the international community and the Arab world.”

Earlier Friday, Defense Minister and Labor chairman Ehud Barak said that “If the moral spine of Kadima continues to bend before power or interest, as it has been doing for years, we will force it to straighten.”

Speaking at a conference at the Labor party’s headquarters in Tel Aviv, Barak added, “This is the time to act for responsibility and morality.

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We must act to change the situation and we will.”

Kadima officials were quick to respond to Barak’s statements.

“The last man who can preach to Kadima on integrity, public ethics and leadership is Barak,” MK Yoel Hasson said. “A bent yardstick cannot straighten a straight yardstick,” he added.

MK Yitzhak Ben-Yisrael retorted that “Kadima does not need goading from those who were investigated in the past and barely escaped allegations of illegal fundraising,” he said. “Kadima is a dignified ruling party and will find the proper and democratic method of bringing about an orderly change of government, out of concern for the future of the state, for the quality of its leadership and its moral character.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz late Thursday night for talks on their continuing cooperation.

Mofaz, who has recently allied himself with the prime minister, is rumored to be seeking the support of Olmert and his associates in an eventual Kadima leadership race against Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

Nevertheless, Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit denied that the two were discussing a possible Kadima primary.

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“I spoke with the prime minister yesterday and he said that he has no intention of holding a primary‚Ķ and without his agreement there won’t be one,” Sheetrit told Army Radio.

Begin Arutz Sheva Excerpt

Min. Barak: The Die Has Been Cast, Prepare for Elections

25 Iyar 5768, 30 May 08 03:21

by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz

( Defense Minister Ehud Barak, as chairman of the Labor party, told his colleagues on Thursday to get ready for elections by the end of this year.

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In the ruling Kadima party, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni condemned the moral corruption exposed in recent days and said that Kadima should be prepared for any political development.

Addressing a meeting of the Labor party directorate in Tel Aviv, Minister Barak announced, “The die has been cast and it is now necessary to prepare for elections.” To that end, Barak said that he had already assigned the party’s General Secretary, Eitan Cabel, the task of “immediately putting together an election campaign staff for the coming elections.”

Barak said Kadima was suffering from “moral paralysis” in that it was not able to address the “burning values issue.” According to Barak, Kadima has a moral obligation to replace Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who is now facing several serious corruption investigations, for the sake of maintaining “appropriate norms” in the public sphere.

Begin YNet News Excerpt

Tzipi’s race to the top

Foreign Minister Livni cautiously moves towards ultimate goal: Israel’s premiership

Attila Somfalvi

Livni ignores Olmert

Livni’s strategy is phased. She believes that the process of replacing Olmert will take some time. Therefore, she will not be burning all the bridges as long as no clear front against the prime minister emerges in Kadima. This front is being formed slowly, yet it is still not strong enough. The number of Knesset members who are concerned for their future is rising, yet it still has not reached a critical mass, the kind that would send the prime minister home.

Meanwhile, Meir Sheetrit and Shaul Mofaz are looking for the right moment to charge forward. Mofaz, who trails Livni in the polls, understands that the next battle is against the foreign minister, so he doesn’t waste too much energy against Olmert. In practice, both men, who knew terrible days in the past two years, are clinging to each other and cooperation, each for his own reasons. For that reason, Mofaz started to attack Livni, and this shall continue in the coming days.

Yet everyone treats Ehud Olmert as a memory, a sort of gum stuck on a shoe that needs to be removed. However, Olmert is not going anywhere.

He continues to hold political talks and tell Kadima members that they will see the truth come to light, while trying not to say one good word about Tzipi Livni.

Livni, for her part, ignores Olmert completely and treats him as if he was air. She is holding countless meetings with Kadima Knesset members and no longer bothers to hide the fact that she’s here to replace Olmert. For her, there is no other option.

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Now we are left to see how she handles the first genuine leadership test she will face.

Begin Jerusalem Post Excerpt

MK Hanegbi: Form emergency government after primaries Staff, THE JERUSALEM POST

May 31, 2008

MK Tzahi Hanegbi, who heads the party’s steering committee, (Kadima) called Saturday evening for early elections to be held and, afterwards, for the establishment of a national emergency government.

“A national emergency government ought to be formed after elections,” H anegbi said during

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an interview on a Channel 2 news program.

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He further commented that this emergency government ought to remain fixed for four years to contend with the issues of the Iranian threat, the situation in the Gaza Strip and peace talks with the Palestinian Authority and Syria.

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In addition Hanegbi called for party elections to be set and also for early Knesset elections as well.

“I consulted with Olmert and senior Kadima officials on the matter and, clearly, [I think] it is impossible to hold this crumbling coalition together,” the MK said.

Earlier last week, Hanegbi had announced that he would summon representatives of the four candidates to replace Olmert to decide on a mechanism for the primary.

He denied reports that he would seek to set a date for the primary this week, but several candidates who spoke to Kadima MK’s on Thursday said a September race was likely.

Gil Hoffman and Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.

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