Tzipi Livni, Prime Minister?
Israel's new coalition government will be led by Kadima's Tzipi Livni or Likud's Benjamin Netanyahu.
Tzipi Livni is the foreign minister of Israel. If she succeeds in forming a coalition government, she would be the second female prime minister in Israel's history, and the first in almost 40 years.
Livni, a former spy for Mossad Israel's foreign intelligence agency, underwent a drastic ideological shift while working as justice minister for former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, according to BBC News. Livni's parents were ultra-nationalists, and she grew up with a right wing mindset. Though she started her political career with the Likud party, she shifted to the center (and the Kadima party) and now sees the survival of Israel as inextricably linked with the creation of a two-state solution in the region, the profile states.
In 2006, she told the New York Times: "I believe, like my parents, in the right of the Jewish people to the entire land of Israel. But I was also raised to preserve Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people and [to preserve] democratic values.
"So choosing between my dreams, and my need to live in democracy, I prefer to give up some of the land."
Though Livni was unable to form a coalition government this past year as the leader of the Kadima party, she has spearheaded the diplomatic talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in an attempt to make progress on the realization of a two-state solution, according to Al-Jazeera English.
She has been Israel's chief negotiator in peace talks with the Palestinians, but has remained tight-lipped about the latest round of peace talks, insisting that they be conducted away from the media spotlight.
Livni has tried to create the image of herself as a strong leader, both as a diplomat and military leader, especially through the most recent campaign against Gaza.
Still, her opponents have called her inexperienced, with only 10 years of political experience in the Knesset, the Jewish Journal reported.
Livni's rivals have pointed to her relative dearth of leadership experience to cast her as insufficiently prepared for the job of prime minister. [Ehud] Barak even borrowed from a theme in a Hillary Clinton campaign ad, asking who Israelis would want to answer the phone at 3 a.m.
Livni countered, though, with the response that her lack of military experience does not translate to a lack of political experience, the Jewish Journal reported.
"Security is not only a question of whether or not there is specific kind of military operation," Livni said last month at the King David Hotel news conference. "The prime minister needs to put on the table what is the goal of Israel as a state and means to achieve this goal, and whether the means are through military force or diplomatic options."
If she becomes prime minister, Livni has vowed to change the unstable electoral system, which allows the prime minister to be easily toppled, the Jerusalem Post reported. She also advocates for the toppling of Hamas and the advancement of the diplomatic process between Israel and Palestine.
"The prime minister should not be able to be toppled except in very rare exceptions," Livni said. "The government cannot be switched every day. After I pass this bill, I will begin dialogue with all the parties in order to change the electoral system for real."
Kadima's platform on the party's Web site says that the changes would be brought to a vote within 120 days after a Kadima-led government is formed. Livni initiated a Kadima task force several months ago to write the party's electoral reform platform.