The Israeli political establishment on Tuesday was closely following the U.S. presidential elections taking place across the ocean. Assessments are that if U.S. President Barack Obama is re-elected, the chances will significantly increase that former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and former Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni will declare their intention to return to politics.
In contrast, if Obama's Republican rival Mitt Romney emerges victorious, the two are not expected to re-enter the political arena for the coming Israeli elections. Olmert and Livni met last Wednesday to coordinate their positions and released a statement following their discussion saying, "The current government must be replaced."
Meanwhile, the Likud has ratcheted up its criticism against the former Kadima leaders, who denigrated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's response to comments made by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday.
Homefront Defense Minister Avi Dichter, who was a senior member of Kadima alongside Livni and has since moved to the Likud, expressed his outrage over the criticism, saying, "Abu Mazen [Abbas] grossly interfered in Israeli politics ahead of elections. What he did is very worrying and extremely irritating. He gives one message in English that most of the Israeli public understands, in which he has forfeited the Palestinians' right of return. And then a few hours later his closest aides explain that he was misunderstood and meant something else. If that's not enough, he himself was interviewed on [Egyptian television station] Al-Hayat and explained that the right of return is holy. There is no greater doublespeak than this."
In a closed-door discussion with Likud activists, Dichter also attacked Livni, who interviewed on the matter of Abbas' statements, saying, "With complete knowledge I can say that Tzipi Livni had no reservations about the diplomatic principles that Netanyahu presented to the Knesset, but instead of conducting herself in a stately fashion she preferred political considerations."
According to Dichter, "Livni's resume doesn't include one decision she has made."
He also said, "A million residents are suffering from rockets from Gaza and Livni is ignoring it just to be nice to Mahmoud Abbas. That isn't leadership. Who will take responsibility in Gaza? Hamas? I'm stunned at the hypocrisy."
Meanwhile, in what marked the first time that a senior member of Israel's secret services has commented on Livni's past in the Mossad, Dichter, a former chief of Israel's Shin Bet security agency, said, "I advise Livni and those close to her to stop boasting about her time in the Mossad. The Mossad is a serious organization. It's befitting that her service in the Mossad remains confidential so that her constituency isn't made to laugh when it hears what her job in the Mossad was. A little humility wouldn't hurt her."