Kadima Leaders Consider Party Primaries

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CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said that the ruling Kadima party must "prepare for any scenario," including early elections.

Speaking at a conference on international security at Jerusalem's Inbal Hotel, Livni broke the silence she had maintained over the corruption case faced by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the leader of Kadima.

"We cannot ignore the events of the past few days," Livni told conference participants and the press covering the event.

"This is not just a legal matter and it does not pertain solely to the prime minister as a private person. These are questions related to the values and norms we want to instill and their effect on the public's trust in Israeli politics," she said.

While not mentioning the prime minister by name, Livni said Kadima must take the initiative.

"Kadima needs to take a decision on what it wants," she said. "It needs to prepare now for all possible scenarios, including elections. These are the things I've been telling party and faction members. I'm working toward a swift, clean process," she said.

On Wednesday, speaking at a memorial service for former Irgun (pre-state military forces) Commander David Raziel, Livni said, "The State has a vision and values that bind both its citizens and leaders. Those values are the common denominator representing the unwritten norms and personal codes of behavior that should guide each one of us."

Livni's call for early elections evoked a swift response from Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, who accused her of being in cahoots with Defense Minister and Labor party chairman Ehud Barak.

Both Livni and Barak consult the same strategic advisor, Reuven Adler, who was a close friend of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

"The Barak-Adler-Livni scheme to dismantle Kadima will not succeed," Mofaz said. "Kadima's fate will be decided only by its members," he said.

"General elections will not help Kadima right now," said Mofaz, "and what is important is what happens to Kadima. We must not let Ehud Barak be the determining factor," he said.

Another close associate of the prime minister responded similarly.

"It's unfortunate that Tzipi Livni blinked first and let the leader of another party decide the fate of Kadima," he said. "It's no wonder Olmert would rather have [Likud leader Binyamin] Netanyahu as prime minister than her," he said.

Meanwhile, at a Labor ministers meeting Thursday in Tel Aviv, Barak said while he would prefer the formation of an alternate government, new elections appear to be more likely.

"The prime minister and his party need to make decisions. If they don't, we will decide for them, according to the proper norms for Israel," Barak said.

Sources: Haaretz, YNet news, The Jerusalem Post

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