(photo credit: )
Kadima and Likud are neck and neck in the race for first place in the 18th Knesset. Over the past two weeks Kadima has managed to catch up with Likud in two ways. First of all, many right-wing voters are shifting from Likud to Israel Beiteinu, and secondly, voters from across the political spectrum are moving over to Kadima. The realization has grown among the public that it must choose between a government that wants to go forward and promote an agreement that offers an historical opportunity for peace with the Palestinians and a government that wants to go backward and abandon the existing agreements and the accepted international position of two states for two peoples, leading Israel to a dead end.
Three months ago, I decided to join Kadima. I had never previously been involved in politics and, like everyone else, I thought that politics was not for me and that there was no way I would get involved and become active in that arena. Nonetheless, I ran in the Kadima primaries and reached number 18 on the list. According to all the polls, this is a realistic position, which places upon me the responsibility to join my colleagues in Kadima in promoting the vision of a democratic Jewish state within secure borders, alongside a Palestinian state.
For many years, I was opposed to the concept of a Palestinian state. In every public forum in which I appeared, I expressed my negative view of the idea that the Palestinians would have a state. But all of the recent governments and prime ministers, including Yitzhak Rabin, Binyamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and Arik Sharon, adopted the two-state solution as the only possible way to eventually bring an end to the bitter conflict with the Palestinians. If we do not do so, we will put in question the democratic, Jewish nature of the State of Israel. Demography is ultimately likely to get the better of us, and we may find ourselves as a Jewish minority running the lives of an Arab majority in an impossible international reality.
The land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people, we have a rightful claim over it, but we must also recognize the historical reality of the Palestinian presence in this small piece of land and the necessity to find a mode of coexistence with them.
THE ESTABLISHMENT OF KADIMA was a bold political attempt to bring together the right and left in a new, strong center party headed by Arik Sharon, and indeed, the public put its trust in the party and the political solution that it proposed. It is not the ideal solution, but it is the only one that can be implemented. The personal and political path of Tzipi Livni, who now heads Kadima, expresses the realization that it is necessary to relinquish the dream of greater Israel in favor of a state within a smaller territory, with a solid Jewish majority and a democratic regime.
Recent developments, including the rise of Avigdor Lieberman and his party, bear witness to the fact that many years of control over the Arabs of the territories and their inevitable ties with Israeli Arabs is encouraging the growth of extremism, and even expressions of racism here. That is another reason for the need to disengage from the majority of the Arab population and convene within defensible borders with a Jewish majority.
Negotiations with the Palestinians have been going on for a long time and are likely to continue for much longer. Kadima has no intention of reaching any agreement that will compromise the security of the State of Israel in any way. As we have demonstrated in Operation Cast Lead, Israel is capable of defending itself and in responding with all its might against anyone who tries to harm its people. And so we will do in the future. Security stands above all, peace comes afterward.
A vote for Kadima and its path is also a vote for Tzipi Livni as prime minister. Livni will be the second woman to serve at the head of an Israeli government. In the diverse cabinet positions she has held over past 10 years, and particularly as foreign minister, she has proven that she is equipped with the leadership, determination and vision of a prime minister; but she will also bring to this position the sensitivity and compassion required to lead the State of Israel through these difficult times.
Together with her, together with us, together with Kadima, we will bring hope to Israel.