Israel’s ruling Kadima party is holding a historic election Wednesday to select a new leader. The current frontrunner in the polls is Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. She could replace the current party chief, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who faces corruption allegations and sharp criticism of his handling of the 2006 war with Hezbollah in Lebanon. If elected, Livni would be Israel’s first female leader in more than 30 years. She faces a challenge from Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz.
Guest: Ethan Bronner, Jerusalem Bureau Chief, The New York Times
Candidates in Kadima's primary (Sept 17, 2008):
Israel's Vice Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, former lawyer
• Born Tzipora Malka Livni, on August, 7, 1958 to Zionist parents
• Rose to the rank of lieutenant in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF)
• Received law degree from Bar Ilan University
• Early 1980s: Member of Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency
• 1999: Elected to the Knesset, Israel's legislature, as a member of the Likud party. She served as a member of the committees responsible for legal and justice procedures and the status of women. She chaired the subcommittee responsible for the Prevention of Money Laundering Law.
• 2001: Appointed to a ministerial position
• 2005: Follows then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to Kadima Party after he resigns from the Likud Party
• 2006: Appointed Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, and served as Minister of Justice until early 2007
• 2007: Named one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people
• 2008: Livni becomes leading candidate to succeed Ehud Olmert, who stepped down as Prime Minister and leader of the Kadima Party after a corruption scandal
Sources: BBC News, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Knesset, Time Magazine
Israel's Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Transportation, former General
• 1948: Born in Iran, in the same year as the formation of Israel
• 1957: Immigrated to Israel at age 9
• 1966: Joined the Israeli Defense Forces at 18, serving in the Six Day War (1967), Yom Kippur War (1973), Operation Entebbe (1976) and 1982 Lebanon War
• 1982: Studied at the Command and Staff College of the United States Marine Corps, in Quantico, Virginia
• 1980s–1990s: Rose though military ranks, becoming Major General in 1994
• 1998–2002: Became Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff, leading controversial military operations against the Palestinian uprising and opposing Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon
• 2002–2006: Appointed Minister of Defense by Ariel Sharon. He has no prior political experience.
• 2006: Appointed Transportation Minister by Ehud Olmert
• 2008: Alleged to be a war criminal after the book "Boomerang: The Failure of Leadership in the Second Intifada" claims Mofaz called for a quota of Palestinian of 70 deaths per day.
Sources: BBC News, Jewish Virtual Library, The Independent, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Knesset