Mofaz's Plan / A Message to Livni, via Haniyeh

Shaul Mofaz yesterday joined the growing number of Israeli politicians, both left and right, who have presented their own peace plans. There is no lack of plans; the peace shelf is groaning under their weight. Only peace itself remains elusive.

Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert both offered the Palestinians much more than Mofaz did, and were turned down. Mofaz acknowledged yesterday that his plan, too, will be rejected by the other side. But at least he has put something on the table, which is otherwise currently bare of new Israeli initiatives.

In Mofazian terms, the plan could be considered bold: The former army chief of staff can allow himself to say things that those with fewer military credentials would not dare - especially since he knows that it will be years, if ever, before he is called on to implement his plan "as prime minister," to quote his own words.

Like many of his colleagues who presented diplomatic plans at times of internal party crisis, Mofaz's plan is mostly about domestic politics. Ever since he lost Kadima's leadership primary to Tzipi Livni by a mere 431 votes in September 2008, he has been determined to win the next round - whenever that is.

By presenting his plan, he is signaling his party colleagues that he views Livni as a mere passing episode. He feels no obligation to her and her positions; he is completely independent. He is also signaling that he has no intention of abandoning Kadima for Likud: With a plan like this, Likud is no place for him.

Livni flew to Washington yesterday for the United Jewish Communities' General Assembly. But when she returns, she will have to deal with her number two's proposal. That creates a potential for fireworks that could serve Mofaz.

Livni, as party leader, wants quiet. Mofaz, as the challenger, needs conflict. And what conflict could be more honorable than one over "diplomatic" issues?

Peace, they say, begins at home. Mofaz has yet to make peace with Livni. But he is already ready to talk with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.