Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livini won a closely fought battle as to who would represent the ruling Kadima party and become the new prime minister. Her opponent, Shaul Mofaz, has agreed not to contest contest and he also made clear there was no intention on his part to seek an important position in her Cabinet. He will seek to find other ways to contribute to the success of his nation. However, the pivotal ultra-Orthodox Shas party intended to make strong demands to have its agenda part of the new government. Livni made clear during her campaign to become the Kadima leader that she was not prepared to pay “any price” to form a coalition government and might resort to holding new elections.
Livni has been working with Prime Minister Olmert in seeking to build bridges to Palestinian leader President Abbas in order to secure an agreement with Palestinians. An ominous message to Livni came from right wing Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu who urged a new general election which he hopes will provide him an opportunity to gain sufficient numbers in order to organize a new coalition.