Livni: Netanyahu was a failure as prime minister

Kadima leader calls for public debate; Likud: Livni is senior partner of failed outgoing government.

elections2009_248 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Kadima leader and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Monday said that Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu had been a failure as prime minister, and called on him to face-off with her in a public debate to show his true colors. "A debate on the real issues is necessary, [as debates] show what kind of a person you are. Not appearing because you do not want to … expose your true face is not acceptable when you have pretensions to be prime minister," she said in an interview to Army Radio. "The true choice will be on February 10, between myself and Netanyahu, who was a prime minister, and failed," Livni continued. "The public knows him, and time doesn't change personality traits or thinking [patterns]." A Likud statement rejected Livni's claims of Netanyahu's incompetence. "During his term, Netanyahu struck terrorism, which dropped to its lowest level from the Oslo Agreement era until today, and as finance minister, he saved Israel's economy," said the statement. "Livni, on the other hand, is a senior partner of the many failures of the outgoing government," the statement added. On Sunday, Livni asserted that she was the only leading election candidate capable of forming a broad national unity government. "I believe that after the elections, I will be the only one who can offer a national unity government that includes Netanyahu and [Labor leader Ehud] Barak on each side, because we are in the center," Livni told high school students in Jerusalem. "A centrist party is not a vacuum, some kind of gap between the Left and the Right. Being centrist means promoting the goals and interests of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, while simultaneously promoting political and security processes," the foreign minister said. "We need to advance peace with the moderate elements and then we can hit Hamas and enlist the world to prevent a nuclear Iran." Livni went on to say that Iran was "not only Israel's problem" and expressed confidence that the free world understood the nature of the threat emanating from the Islamic Republic. The Labor party dismissed as "baseless" Livni's assertion that only she was capable of forming a broad coalition, "especially considering the fact that she failed to form a government when all of the circumstances were on her side." It may be, Labor said, that "Livni is already putting out the feelers to join a coalition with Likud."