Kadima is capitalizing on Washington's new administration in its campaign for the premiership against Likud chairman MK Benjamin Netanyahu, warning that a Netanyahu government will lead to a clash between Israel and the United States.
Livni said privately on Saturday that "people forget what happened to this relationship when Bibi was prime minister, and they have to be reminded."
Livni said the visit Wednesday of Obama's new envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, was "an opportunity for Israel." The United States wants to be involved and bring about a solution to the conflict. The pressure it brings to bear will be directed at those who reject the process. Israel will have to chose whether it is on the side that promotes the process or rejects it; otherwise there will be an unavoidable rift with the United States," Livni said.
Kadima is considering using in its campaign spots excerpts from a book by Dennis Ross, special Middle East coordinator under former president Bill Clinton and expected to work with the administration as a special peace envoy. One excerpt from the book, "The Missing Peace," describes Netanyahu as insufferable and states that that after Ross and Clinton met with him, the U.S. president felt Netanyahu thought he was the power, and that the Americans were there to do his bidding.
Sources close to Netanyahu dismissed Kadima's "Obama campaign" and called it "very superficial" and indicated that Kadima was "desperate." The sources said that unlike Livni, Netanyahu had a deep understanding, developed over many years, of the American administration and its central figures.
Senior Likud figures said Livni's advisers were actually helping Netanyahu in their "Obama campaign." "Clearly the public has moved to the right after the war in Gaza, so it will also want a tough leader who will protect Israel's interests vis-a-vis the Americans," they said.
Sources close to Netanyahu say his views are much more suitable for the new administration than those of his rivals. If Netanyahu becomes prime minister, an associate said, "he will work to significantly improve the situation in the West Bank, both economically and in terms of security. In a short time under Netanyahu changes will be seen that were not seen all during the period that Livni was negotiating, so we will reach a real diplomatic solution." Meanwhile, sources close to Defense Minister and Labor Party chairman Ehud Barak are saying they are the ones who will work best with Obama.
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