Who is behind signs calling on Livni to replace Olmert?
Israeli Foreign Minister Tsipi Livni has so far been very cautious about acting on her ambitions to one day succeed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. With Olmert facing unprecedented disapproval ratings over his handling of the Lebanon war, corruption, and lack of discernible strategy, however, a group of independent activists has apparently decided to promote Livni from outside the party. On Sunday, ads featuring the foreign minister's face, the Kadima logo, and the caption, "honest leadership and a cleaning of hands," appeared around Tel Aviv. The signs called for Livni to replace Olmert as the head of the government (Ynet).
Kadima sources have denied that the foreign minister is behind these signs. Indeed, they believe that the persons responsible for these ads could not have come from the party. They are probably right. Livni is too smart to risk her standing, and Olmert is too clever to let her undermine him in this way. So, the initiative either comes from activists who see Livni as a credible candidate to oppose Bibi's comeback try, or from people trying to bring about some kind of internal Kadima crisis.
In the meantime, Olmert, facing domestic pressure as well as a White House trying to salvage something from two disastrous terms, has hinted at his support for the Saudi initiative for a larger regional peace settlement between Israel and the Arab states. As Aluf Benn notes,
The Saudi initiative gives Olmert a chance to recover, if he can manage to demonstrate political progress. He doesn't have a lot to lose.For the first time, it also appears that American opposition to (or rumors about U.S. vetoes of) Israeli negotiations with Syria might be softening.
Of course, the Palestinian front remains as fragile as ever. It will be a miracle if the unity government lasts. It is clear that the interests of Fatah and Hamas conflict. Without a major change in Palestinian political culture, it is hard to see how these two sides will agree to share power indefinitely.