Analysis: Livni's picture as the message

Photographs taken during a tour of the W. Bank show the FM in a very prime ministerial pose.

livni west bank 224.88 (photo credit: Moshe Milner/GPO)
livni west bank 224.88
(photo credit: Moshe Milner/GPO)
Four pictures that Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's office made sure were distributed Monday are a telling portent of where she wants to be. Livni went on an unannounced tour of the West Bank Monday given by the head of the Central Command and other top IDF generals. She was updated about the IDF's recent activities in Nablus, the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure, as well as settlement activity and the illegal outposts. And she was photographed in a very prime ministerial pose - almost Ariel Sharon-like - looking grim and very serious while scanning the scene and listening attentively to the explanations given by a bevy of generals. The photographs are key, because they present an image of Livni the public does not know, and one she obviously wants to nurture - Livni the security buff, Livni the military maven. If anyone really had any doubt about Livni's plans, these pictures should put them to rest. To become prime minister in this country, especially after the Second Lebanon War, security credentials will be necessary. These pictures seem especially designed to create that image. And pictures like these could not be taken without the cooperation of Defense Minister Ehud Barak himself. One does not just walk around among the generals and troops unannounced - it all had to be coordinated with Barak's Defense Ministry, the latest indication of a fascinating alliance forming between these two contenders for Ehud Olmert's throne. The thinking among some Machiavellian analysts is that this alliance, between two leading figures in two opposing parties, is meant as much to stop Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu as it is designed to topple Olmert. Livni was already once badly outmaneuvered by the prime minister, and may be hesitant to try her luck again. But if the upcoming Winograd Committee report is so damning that Olmert is forced from office, then the two may conceivably be interested in a pact to run separately as heads of their respective parties, and then after the election form a coalition that would keep Netanyahu from being anointed prime minister. But for Livni to be able to lead her party she has to spread her net, appear deeply involved in issues that she has not heretofore been overly involved in - security issues, or issues pertaining to the link between Israel and the Diaspora, an issue she sounded off on at Sunday's cabinet meeting (later making sure to distribute her comments to reporters). Granted, no one knows exactly what the Winograd report will contain in three weeks' time, or what will come in its wake. But that isn't stopping Livni from jostling for position ahead of time.