Fearing huge losses at the next election, Israel’s largest opposition party, Kadima, has removed Tzipi Livni as its leader. Livni was foreign minister in the previous government and is one of Israel’s strongest advocates for peace with the Palestinians. Her replacement, Shaul Mofaz, is a former army chief-of-staff and ex-defense minister.The FT‘s political post-mortem on Livni’s downfall points to Iran as the overwhelming cause of death: “polls show that Israeli voters are today gripped above all by concern over Iran’s nuclear programme, at the expense of issues such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”Is Kadima’s move to oust Livni just a shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic? At least one survey published last week shows the party may fare even worse under Mofaz. What the vote to replace Livni with Mofaz highlights is Netanyahu’s dominance in the Israeli political arena; his position is only likely to strengthen the longer Iran remains at the forefront of Israeli political consciousness.By turning to a former defense chief, Kadima has chosen to wrap itself in khaki, hoping it will enable them to better compete with Netanyahu on defense issues like Iran, as well as the instability unleashed by the Arab Spring. Livni’s Kadima actually won the most seats of any party in the most recent elections but she was unable—or unwilling—to form a coalition with the other parties. That reluctance was unpopular within Kadima, and we suspect Mofaz would be more likely to serve under Netanyahu in a coalition.
Israeli Politics Continuing Rightward Drift
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