Many people have waited for one pure moment of true leadership by Tzipi Livni – the moment where she will spread her wings and fly. That moment has not yet arrived, and the foreign minister is making her way to that point cautiously, with measured steps: She calls on Kadima to prepare for primaries and criticizes Ehud Olmert's morals. She wants to be the prime minister, but she's scared to say it out loud.
In other words: Livni wants to fly, but she wishes to do it cautiously, without being hurt. She dreams of the day where the president will assign her with forming a government, just like he announced the hoopoe as Israel's new national bird.
Yet still, the foreign minister's words are important. On days where most of the political activity takes place in whispers and hints, while most senior Kadima figures still refrain from addressing the Talansky affair in a clear and incisive manner, Livni's words pave the way.
Despite Shaul Mofaz's, Avi Dichter's, and Meir Sheetrit's aspirations, and despite their intention to contend for Kadima's leadership, all of them waited for Livni. For each one of Kadima's top figures it was clear that without her, and without a clear statement from her regarding the primaries, Kadima will find it difficult to get on the fast track to the day after. Now that it's clear that Livni is not trying to work out any shady deals, the signal has been given for the gloves to be off in the inheritance battle.
Livni ignores Olmert
Livni's strategy is phased. She believes that the process of replacing Olmert will take some time. Therefore, she will not be burning all the bridges as long as no clear front against the prime minister emerges in Kadima. This front is being formed slowly, yet it is still not strong enough. The number of Knesset members who are concerned for their future is rising, yet it still has not reached a critical mass, the kind that would send the prime minister home.
Meanwhile, Meir Sheetrit and Shaul Mofaz are looking for the right moment to charge forward. Mofaz, who trails Livni in the polls, understands that the next battle is against the foreign minister, so he doesn't waste too much energy against Olmert. In practice, both men, who knew terrible days in the past two years, are clinging to each other and cooperation, each for his own reasons. For that reason, Mofaz started to attack Livni, and this shall continue in the coming days.
Yet everyone treats Ehud Olmert as a memory, a sort of gum stuck on a shoe that needs to be removed. However, Olmert is not going anywhere. He continues to hold political talks and tell Kadima members that they will see the truth come to light, while trying not to say one good word about Tzipi Livni.
Livni, for her part, ignores Olmert completely and treats him as if he was air. She is holding countless meetings with Kadima Knesset members and no longer bothers to hide the fact that she's here to replace Olmert. For her, there is no other option. Now we are left to see how she handles the first genuine leadership test she will face.