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European Press Review: Livni Up Against Great Expectations

Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is beginning the task of putting together a new government after she was elected leader of the ruling Kadima party this week. DW-WORLD.DE sums up press reactions to her win.

Israeli Foreign Minister and candidate for Kadima party leadership Tzipi Livni, right, is greeted by a supporter

Livni hopes to become Israel's first female prime minister in more than three decades

The Luxemburger Wort commented Friday, Sept. 19, that Livni was right to say that she would approach the job of prime minister with "great reverence." "Further reconciliation with the Palestinians, treatment of Iran's increasing nuclear power, and normalization of relations with Syria are the three largest geo-strategic challenges facing Israel," the paper said. "The long-term vitality of this high-tech nation sandwiched between the Golan Heights and the Red Sea depends on the clever handling of these dossiers."

The conservative Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet predicted that these issues will very soon be causing Tzipi Livni severe headaches should she be sworn in as prime minister. "Current Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's plans for a one-sided withdrawal from the occupied territories were abandoned when Hezbollah provoked the second war in Lebanon," the paper said. "Instead of a withdrawal, there was the Hamas coup in Gaza, which is now blocking progress in the West Bank. And it probably won't be long before the terrorists working for the Hamas regime put Livni's skills to the hardest of tests."

London's The Independent commented Friday on the first task awaiting Livni -- that of forming a government in just 42 days. The task will be difficult, the paper said, because it will involve her winning some support from one of the small extremist parties which hold the balance of power in Israeli politics. "In the past, Ms Livni has hinted that she is not prepared to make random concessions to every interest group; indeed, she wants to break with the wheeler-dealing tradition of Israeli politics and restore public trust in the political process, " the paper wrote. "She now has to strike a delicate balance between doing that and ensuring she can form an administration which will last long enough to present some serious progress on peace to the Israeli electorate at the next election in 18 months time. That is not long. Israel's controversial security wall may have stopped the suicide bombs for the time being, but she must not be lulled into thinking she has the luxury of time."

Israel's English-language newspaper, Haaretz, commented that all eyes will be on Livni as she tries to form a government. "Being clean means more than not accepting envelopes filled with money," the paper wrote. "Political cleanliness also requires making decisions that are statesmanlike and not opportunistic. Livni has to prove that, in contrast to her predecessor, she chooses the persons best suited to the job to be her cabinet ministers and not those who claim to represent the 'grassroots,' those who threaten the unity of the ranks and those who threaten to call for new elections."

The Berliner Zeitung commented on the rise of "Frauenpower" -- the power of women -- in Israel, writing: "If Livni were the lead singer of a band, it might be called 'Tzipi and the Expectations.' Western countries are among those who see huge promise in her. In Europe in particular, she's being treated like a new beacon of light in the Middle East peace process." Despite the difficulties facing Livni, the paper said that with her victory, the chance is now greater that those who want a fair peace deal will have greater say.

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