I don't know whether you've noticed, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's face is glowing. He smiles, sports a perfect shave and haircut, all the way to the cameras. Check what happens when he shakes the hands of guests from abroad - the U.S. chief of staff, for example: While the guest looks straight at his host, Bibi focuses on the camera, the spectators. With a smile that says: "Nu, you see? There's nobody like me."
Who would have believed that Bibi, with just 12 Knesset seats in the opposition, would survive? In the last election Likud ended up with 27 seats, while Kadima, headed by Tzipi Livni, had 28. Bibi rules with a strong hand and an outstretched arm over an almost absolute majority with the ultra-Orthodox, Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beitenu ) and a huge cabinet of 40 ministers and deputy ministers. And judging by what is happening to Kadima, there's a reasonable chance that Bibi will win a third term as prime minister.
If former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the founder of Kadima, could see what is currently happening within his party, he would go into a coma again. Kadima is today the most fractured party in the Knesset. From the moment Livni took over the leadership, she hasn't enjoyed even a moment of grace. She doesn't exist as an opposition like that of Likud during Menachem Begin's time, or even during Bibi's, but is destroying herself in her own party.
Livni made a mistake when she appointed Shaul Mofaz as her deputy, thereby creating an internal rival with her own hands. The relationship between the two is reminiscent of a story about two Israeli companies competing over the sale of a specific item to Singapore. Their mutual condemnations were so extreme that the buyer in Singapore believed both of them and purchased the item in France. A true story.
The internal conflicts in Kadima are liable to lead to the party's destruction, or as Benjamin Franklin once said: "We must all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately." Israel, which is in need of a center-left party - but not a left-wing party and certainly not a messianic one - found it in Kadima. The last thing they expected was that it would be destroyed in internal wars.
I remember my first meeting with Livni. She amazed me with her talent for analysis and her ability to express herself. This is it, I said to myself. But my admiration dissolved after she assumed the role of party leader. As the leader of an opposition party she was nonexistent, not to mention the fact that she was unable to present herself as an alternative to the prime minister. Nor did she control the party whose platform she proudly claimed to have written.
They used to say that Prime Minister Golda Meir was the only "man" in Mapai (the predecessor of the Labor Party ); they're not saying that Livni is Kadima's Golda. Mapai members did not dare utter a word against Golda, while Livni has had quite a few rivals inside the party who ignored her.
Her decision to move up the primaries, to almost two years before the planned elections, is her second mistake (after appointing Mofaz as her deputy after the previous elections ).
Her arrogance was interpreted as weakness, and it's no wonder that today every bastard is a king. Dalia Itzik, for example, has yet to decide whether she is with Livni or Mofaz. Ruhama Avraham Balila is also hesitating, and there is a rival named Avi Dichter, and this is before we have heard the plans of Haim Ramon and Tzachi Hanegbi. They could be a winning pair opposite Livni.
Mofaz has built a strong foundation for himself. He knows how to embrace and distribute jobs, whereas Livni is arrogant and treats him with insulting coldness. Everyone remembers Mofaz's speech, during which Livni continually mocked him by blurting out, "Wonderful." Even rivals Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, says a member of Kadima, learned how to work together in spite of their grudges. Now Mofaz is threatening her leadership.
Mofaz will bring her to unpleasant places, says a well-informed observer. Livni's main asset is her rational attitude toward the conflict. Not a messianic party, but one that operates with statesmanlike logic. But the internal wars will destroy her. We have enough extremists here who will be happy if Kadima disappears.
When I asked a senior Kadima MK what has to be done, he replied unequivocally: "We have to hit Mofaz and Livni with a 5-kilogram hammer." Kadima is in a state of self-destruction at a time when we are most in need of it. Bibi is enjoying the best of all worlds: an overwhelming majority, a two-year budget and a chance at a third term. He will keep on smiling until the day an Iranian Shahab missile falls on Tel Aviv.
And nobody will be able to say that Kadima had nothing to do with it.
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