Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Israel's Tzipi Livni to Run against Netanyahu Ex-Foreign Minister Defines Herself as a 'Peace' Candidate

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Israel's Tzipi Livni to Run against Netanyahu Ex-Foreign Minister Defines Herself as a 'Peace' Candidate

Article excerpt

JERUSALEM -- Tzipi Livni, a former foreign minister who advocates territorial compromise with the Palestinians, announced her candidacy Tuesday in Israel's approaching elections, adding her name to an already-fractured array of centrist challengers to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Returning to politics after a hiatus of several months, Ms. Livni said she would lead a new party, the Movement, vowing to present an "ideological and personal alternative" to Mr. Netanyahu, whose Likud faction chose a heavily right-leaning slate in party primaries Monday.

Unlike other centrist candidates who have focused mostly on social and economic issues, Ms. Livni, the most prominent female politician in Israel in recent years, emphasized her political agenda at a news conference in which she announced that she would compete in the vote set for Jan. 22.

"I've come to fight for peace," she said. "And I will not lend a hand to those who are trying to turn peace into a dirty word."

A politician who was reared in the Likud, but later led the centrist Kadima party, Ms. Livni, 54, said she represents a view that "believes in the right to all of the land," but also in reaching an agreement with the Palestinians that would "keep Israel Jewish and democratic."

Citing indirect cease-fire talks between Israel and the Islamist group Hamas after the recent Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip, Ms. Livni accused Mr. Netanyahu of shunning negotiations with the more moderate Palestinian leadership in the West Bank.

"Everything is backwards: a government that negotiates with terror and freezes all dialogue with those who act to prevent attacks," she said, referring to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, with whom negotiations have broken down over continued Israeli settlement building on occupied land.

Accusing Mr. Netanyahu's government of rejecting the notion of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, Ms. Livni said it had ended up with "two Palestinian states -- one Palestinian state in the United Nations . …

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