Livni: We need to be a light unto ourselves

Livni chooses more subtle approach with Olmert, says state's vision and values obligate its leaders.

livni 224.88 (photo credit: Channel 10)
livni 224.88
(photo credit: Channel 10)
While Defense Minister Ehud Barak explicitly called for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to step down on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni - Olmert's chief rival inside Kadima - was more subtle, saying at a small memorial service for former Irgun commander David Raziel that the country is not only about physical survival, but also about values. "Before we can be a 'light unto the nations,' as we would want, it is fitting for us first to work inside our home to show the light," she said at the service at Raziel's graveside on Mount Herzl, without making any reference to Olmert by name. A year ago, Livni - after the publication of the Winograd Committee's interim report - called on Olmert to resign at a press conference, but refrained from quitting the government herself. This time she chose to deliver her message at a memorial service attended by some 50 people, and opted to send it indirectly, through broad hints. "The state is not just a technical matter of border and citizens, it is not just symbols, a flag, and an anthem," she said. "The state has a vision and values that obligate its citizens and its leaders." Livni said Israel had not yet realized that vision. "Israel is still fighting for its existence," she said. "It is fighting for its physical existence, and needs to fight as well to preserve its values. Along side the physical existence, we are commanded to act with the same values that led the pre-state leadership." One source in close contact with Livni said her comments were intended to send a message to the public that she did not mean to go on with business as usual. This was her first comment since Morris Talansky's court testimony in Jerusalem on Tuesday. The source said Livni realized that Talansky's testimony, as well as Barak's ultimatum to Olmert, provided her with a golden opportunity to work inside Kadima to reach an agreement with the other ministers who are eyeing Olmert's chair, whereby they would agree to set a date for leadership primaries and early elections, but in the meantime force Olmert out of Kadima's leadership and support Livni as his replacement. The ministers she will have to convince are Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit and Public Security Minister Avi Dichter.