UPDATE (6 pm Wednesday): An Israeli motorist was injured in Jerusalem near Mount of Olives three hours ago when terrorists stoned his car.
In the end it wasn’t even close.
Frustrated by the continuing drop of their party in the polls with the attendant fear that their party might come close to disappearing in the next election, and frustrated by Tzipi Livni’s unending narcissism which placed her own interests above those of the party, Kadima voters unceremoniously booted Livni out of the chairmanship of Kadima yesterday and replaced her with Shaul Mofaz by a vote of 61.7% to 37.23%.
Mofaz, as you may not know, is a Lt. General in the IDF reserve and the current chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. In the past he has served as the IDF Chief of Staff and as Israel’s Defense Minister under Ariel Sharon.
Mofaz was especially known in his military career for the tough tactics he initiated against the Palestinian terrorists during the second intifada (2000-2004) including the use of bulldozers to carry out demolitions, the fortifying of IDF outposts, and the employing of intermittent raids against such terrorist strongholds as Jenin and Gaza.
Nevertheless, from the day that Ariel Sharon split the Likud Party in November of 2005 and formed Kadima, Mofaz and Kadima have slid inexorably to the Israeli ‘left’. As they did so, they began to lose contact with the Israeli populace which has been inexorably moving to the right.
The fact that Kadima won the most seats in the last election was less a factor of its popularity than of the fact that Kadima was able to consolidate most of the votes on the ‘left’–a fact that was underscored by Livni’s subsequent inability to form a government.
What difference will Mofaz’s chairmanship of Kadima ultimately mean in Israeli politics? Probably not much though clearly the voters in Kadima hope that Israeli voters will remember Mofaz’s military career and will thereby change their perception of Kadima as a party on the ‘left’.
But Mofaz is as much of a narcissist as Livni; already he was blustering yesterday afternoon as the votes were being counted that: “[Tomorrow], I will already start efforts to form Israel’s next government.”
Given the fact that Netanyahu said this past week that he is in “no hurry” to go to new elections (not scheduled until November 2013), Mofaz will have a long time to sit with his supposed “next government” before he can even contemplate going up against the Netanyahu coalition.
And in the end, Tzipi Livni finally seems to understand how low she has fallen in public esteem. When asked if she would stay in Kadima or break off (with the 12 Kadima ministers who supported her) to form a new party, Livni rightly commented yesterday: “I don’t think the public cares what happens to me personally if I don’t win. It’s a subject that only the press cares about.”
Livni’s star has flamed out–for now. Of course, if there is one thing you can count on, it is that she will try to make a comeback once she has been out of the limelight for a while. Her friends in the press and on the ‘left’ will “demand” it–at least that is what she will say.
Livni is too much of a media creature and too much in love with herself to stay away from politics for very long.