CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has given his endorsement to Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who succeeded him in September as head of the Kadima party.
Olmert announced his decision at a Maccabiah conference Sunday evening.
"Livni is the candidate who can lead Israel to a serious and responsible peace process with security," Olmert told conference participants.
"She showed determination during the war and wisdom in the diplomatic process," he said.
According to Jerusalem Post political correspondent Gil Hoffman, Livni's advisors sought to distance themselves from Olmert's endorsement, which they said had the potential to "do more harm than good."
Former Knesset Speaker and Likud MK (member of Knesset) Reuven Rivlin said Olmert's endorsement lacked sincerity.
"The tone of his voice wasn't supportive," Rivlin said. "He's not enthusiastic because he knows his foreign minister's inabilities better than anyone else," he said.
Meanwhile, at a campaign rally in Tel Aviv, Livni announced that her "victory is at hand."
"We have proven that even in difficult times, it is possible to replace despair with dreams," Livni told the crowd.
Earlier Sunday, Likud chairman and opposition leader Binyamin (Bibi) Netanyahu, who continues to lead pre-election polls, told supporters that unlike Kadima, his government would not cede the Golan Heights to Syria.
Netanyahu, accompanied by his son, Avner, planted a sapling in in the Golan Heights in observance of Tu B'shvat (the 'New Year' of the trees), predicting that his son would bring his grandchildren to see the tree planted in 2009.
"The Golan will remain in our hands if the Likud wins the election," Netanyahu said. "If Kadima wins, we will not remain in the Golan. We'll just continue with more concessions," he said.
Source: The Jerusalem Post