Kadima Party leader Tzipi Livni was to meet with Labor Party leaders late this week in her coalition building efforts, but she made it clear she will drive a tougher bargain than Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in peace talks with Palestinians.
Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert insisted this week that Israel must give up East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights to achieve peace, a view that may complicate efforts of his would-be successor to form a government.
Olmert’s comments, published Monday in the Israeli newspaper Yediot Achronot, were the most far reaching he has ever made publicly. And he revealed that Israel and the Palestinians were “very close to an agreement.”
Just hours after Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni assured him that peace talks would continue while she assembles a new government, Palestinian chief negotiator Ahmed Qureia suggested that Palestinians may return to violence if the talks failed.
“Resistance in all forms is a legitimate right,” Qureia was quoted as saying.
Livni reportedly called Qureia to object to his remarks, saying that “violence and terror will never be legitimate” and would only be met by force.
Apparently bowing to pressure, the government of Israel announced Sunday that it would resume checking 3,000 Ethiopian Falash Mura who claim they are entitled to make aliyah.
The action came after the government announced earlier this year that it would no longer carry out the mass immigration of Ethiopian Falash Mura, whose descendants had been forced to convert from Judaism.
Polls indicate Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni will score a decisive victory in next Wednesday’s Kadima Party primary, setting the stage for her to become the first woman prime minister since Golda Meir more than 30 years ago.
But analysts caution that an upset is possible and believe she may have an even harder time putting together a coalition government to succeed that of Ehud Olmert, who has promised to resign after the election because of a corruption probe. Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz is Livni’s chief rival for the Kadima top spot.
A federal grand jury in Brooklyn has begun investigating tax and money-laundering issues involving Morris Talansky, the businessman at the heart of the bribery scandal involving Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, but his lawyer here is asking Israeli authorities to quash it.
Unless that happens, Talansky will not return to Israel for another round of pre-trial questioning by Olmert’s lawyers, according to Talansky’s lawyer, Bradley Simon of Manhattan.
A total of 90 Jews from war-ravaged Georgia have made aliyah in the last two weeks and as many as 100 others will be arriving in the next two weeks, according to an official of the Jewish Agency.
In addition, another 50 Jewish children ages 13 to 16 will be leaving Georgia for Israel at the beginning of September for 10 days of camp.
With the release this week of a detailed Palestinian peace proposal dealing with borders, refugees and security, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is seen by observers as trying to burnish his tarred legacy.
“He wants to put his fingerprints on the map of the Middle East to show he did something in addition to all of the corruption he is connected with,” said Mordechai Kedar of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.