In elections one must choose from among the contending parties and candidates, not between the reality and utopia. In today's elections, the contenders for prime minister are Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Kadima leader Tzipi Livni, each of whom represents a different approach to Israel's future.
Netanyahu failed as prime minister. He deliberately slowed down the peace process and sowed conflict and strife between groups and communities in Israeli society. He is sticking to the ideology that has been guiding him for more than two decades - vehement objection to dividing the land and establishing a Palestinian state. In this election campaign, Netanyahu has announced that he would not evacuate settlements and not pull out of the Golan, and supported Avigdor Lieberman's demand for a declaration of loyalty as a condition for citizenship.
Netanyahu's positions and the Likud's extreme Knesset list guarantee the perpetuation of the occupation and the settlements (under the guise of "economic peace"), and bode poorly for Israel's international status. His policy will lead Israel to a confrontation with Barack Obama's administration, which seeks to advance the two-state solution.
Livni is not an ideal candidate. She pushed the outgoing cabinet to an erroneous war in Gaza and drove to expand it into a ground operation. Her party supported the racist blacklisting of the Arab parties and Livni said she would sit in the same coalition with Yisrael Beiteinu. Kadima's list is also far from inspiring.
But in the most important issue at stake, the one in which the candidates present clear differences in approach and way - the future of the relations with the Palestinians - Livni has made the right decision for dividing the land and the two-state solution.
She has adhered to this approach for several years now and led the move to resume the final status arrangement talks with Ehud Olmert in the outgoing government. She supported the pullout from Gaza unconditionally and now speaks of evacuating West Bank settlements as a necessary condition for an agreement. Last week she overcame her hesitations and, unlike Labor leader Ehud Barak, declared that the elections were "about peace" and called on the public not to miss the opportunity.
This is why, despite the doubts concerning her experience and her aggressive stance regarding the fighting in Gaza, Livni is better than Netanyahu as Israel's next prime minister.
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