Rival Israeli Pols Gain From Gaza Attack

Offensive could make or break the election for leaders who planned it

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 31, 2008 8:04 AM CST

(Newser) – An uneasy triumvirate of Israeli politicians united to plan the offensive against Gaza, the Washington Post reports. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who will compete to become prime minister in February's election, both want to convince the electorate they can successfully defend Israel. For outgoing PM Ehud Olmert, who resigned under pressure from a corruption scandal, the offensive could be the last chance to leave a positive legacy.

Another candidate, hardliner Benjamin Netanyahu, opened up a wide lead before the offensive with a promise to take firm action against Hamas. That lead has now shrunk and analysts believe the decision to strike at Gaza will continue paying political dividends—if it manages to halt Hamas rocket attacks. Palestinian leaders, meanwhile, say that their people always suffer from Israeli shows of strength ahead of elections.

Kadima party leader Tzipi Livni, left, Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu, center, and Labor Party leader Ehud Barak attend a conference in Tel Aviv, Israel, Monday, Dec. 15, 2008
Kadima party leader Tzipi Livni, left, Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu, center, and Labor Party leader Ehud Barak attend a conference in Tel Aviv, Israel, Monday, Dec. 15, 2008   (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, center, talks as Defense Minister Ehud Barak, right, and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni listen during a press conference in Tel Aviv, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008.
Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, center, talks as Defense Minister Ehud Barak, right, and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni listen during a press conference in Tel Aviv, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008.   (AP Photo/Moti Milrod)
An Israeli soldier stands on top of a tank at a staging area near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2008.
An Israeli soldier stands on top of a tank at a staging area near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2008.   (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
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With Netanyahu leading in the polls, and the security situation deteriorating, it would have killed Livni and Barak if they had let 50 or 60 rockets land every day and done nothing.
- Reuven Y. Hazan, a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

The Israeli politicians are using this blood bath for the sake of their political campaigns. - Mustafa Barghouti, an independent Palestinian politician based in the West Bank

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