Dichter vows to restore Sharon's vision to Kadima

Declares that "the people of Kadima deserve better."

dichter 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
dichter 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Public Security Minister Avi Dichter officially declared his candidacy for the Kadima leadership on Tuesday in a speech at Herzliya's Air Force House, in which he compared himself to Kadima's founder, former prime minister Ariel Sharon. While Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz decided to use Jerusalem's Old City walls as the backdrop for unveiling his campaign, Dichter spoke in front of a large picture of Kadima's founder, former prime minister Ariel Sharon. He spoke about fighting as a soldier under Sharon and recalled the conversation he had with him in New York when the former PM asked Dichter to join Kadima. "I joined Kadima because of Sharon's vision of a different kind of politics," Dichter said. "I ask where has this vision gone? Was it lost forever the day Sharon had his stroke? We have been left with a party of posters and no content." Sharon's former spokesman Ra'anan Gissin came to the event and said he was working on Dichter's behalf. Gissin denounced efforts by other Kadima leadership candidates to portray themselves as Sharon's successor. "You have to judge people by what they do, not what they say, and like Sharon, Dichter is a doer," Gissin said. Dichter criticized the shallowness of his competition for the September 17 primary. He blamed Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni for running an empty campaign focusing on her cleanliness and Mofaz for raising oil prices around the world through his threats against Iran. He also criticized Livni for her refusal to commit to remain in the party even if she would lose the race "With full modesty, I believe I can lead Kadima better than the other candidates," Dichter said. "The people of Kadima deserve better." Dichter said it angered him to hear his competitors talk about diplomatic and security issues. He blasted the negotiations led by Livni, which he said would not succeed without a proper Palestinian partner. "I won't ignore the road map that the Israeli government accepted as the lesser of all evils or seek an irresponsible shelf agreement," he said. As he has done in the past, Dichter spoke optimistically about chances for reaching peace with Syria and even sent a message to the Syrian administration in Arabic, warning them against ties with Iran. Dichter's event was hosted by Russian-Israeli journalist and model Anastasia Michaeli, who was a Knesset candidate with Kadima in the last general election. She endorsed him, as did a religious resident of Sderot named Yaniv, who thanked him for the support he showed residents of the rocket-stricken town. Reserve IDF general Amiram Levine, who has recently supported Labor's Ami Ayalon and other political candidates, spoke about Dichter's bravery. He blamed Mofaz for the manner in which Israel withdrew from Lebanon and for allowing Hamas to fire at Israelis after Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip. "Kadima members should learn from Labor's mistakes and see whether electing the candidate with the most military experience solved any of the problems with Israel's security," Levine said in criticism of Labor chairman Ehud Barak. "What do you know about the skills and the practical abilities of Tzipi Livni?" he asked. "We know what Avi Dichter can do. This isn't a time when Israel can afford to gamble and the only sure bet is Avi Dichter." Shai Hermesh was the only MK who came to the event, but he said he was only there to thank Dichter for his support for the confrontation line communities around the Gaza Strop that the MK represents in the Knesset, and that he had not made up his mind about whom to support in the race.