World Citizen: Israeli Politicians Line Up for Elections

World Citizen: Israeli Politicians Line Up for Elections

JERUSALEM -- Political posters are beginning to appear on Israeli streets, sending early signals to voters in advance of next February's parliamentary election. In Jerusalem, discreet posters show Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu touting his pledge to "Watch over Jerusalem." In more progressive parts of the country, the ever-serious visage of Kadima's Tzipi Livni, the current foreign minister, highlights her pragmatic vow to do "What is good for Israel." With three months to go, the tight contest is shaping up as a duel of personalities between Netanyahu and Livni.

Livni, who failed to form a coalition after Ehud Olmert announced his resignation, has promised to move forward in talks to reach a land-for-peace deal with Palestinians. Netanyahu, for his part, says he, too, will talk, but he promises to hold on to an undivided Jerusalem as capital of Israel and is now emphasizing an economic focus to relations with Palestinians as a means of reducing terror. "We should build from the bottom up by improving the lives of our Palestinian neighbors," says the "New" Netanyahu, showing a newfound human concern for the lives of Palestinians. "Economic prosperity," he now argues, will reduce the appeal of radicalism, thereby strengthening the prospects for peace.

For Livni, the emphasis remains on negotiations, which she has led on behalf of the Olmert government. The hardliner-turned-pragmatist says Israel must show flexibility and reach a peace deal based on territorial compromise.

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