Tel Aviv, Nov.12 : Israeli leaders Tzipi Livni and Benjamin Netanyahu are competing to cast themselves as Obama-like champions of change, clean government and bipartisanship in their respective bids to win general elections. Foreign Minister Livni, who is the leader of the centrist Kadima party, has called for an end to partisan "factionalism", while Netanyahu, a former prime minister and leader of the hard-line Likud Party, says he is the candidate of change because Livni's party has been in power since it split from Likud three years ago.
The influence of the U.S. election shouldn't be surprising, said Eyal Arad, a strategist for Livni. "Our political cultures are in such close proximity to each other. Israelis feel that they are close to Americans. In a basic way they tend to inspire each other," Arad added. That sentiment could reinforce the Israeli public's longing for a leader free of police investigations that have become a pandemic among Israeli prime ministers. Some observers say Livni's image as an honest broker untainted by corruption puts her in an ideal position to benefit from the change in the United States. "I would count on the Obama effect. Obama made it thanks to his role as something new. This seems, to an extent, also to be the case of Tzipi Livni. She also seems to be new, she seems to be clean and fresh," claimed Hebrew University professor Shlomo Aronson.