Dichter quits Kadima race, joins Mofaz against Livni

Mofaz welcome decision, as Dichter gives him his support; Livni says move shows her competitors know she is the favorite.

March 22, 2012 18:46
2 minute read.
Avi Dichter

Avi Dichter 311 AJ. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])

A day after MK Avi Dichter’s associates told The Jerusalem Post that he would remain in the Kadima leadership race until the end, Dichter called a press conference to announce that he was quitting the contest and endorsing MK Shaul Mofaz.

Dichter came under tremendous pressure from Mofaz to unite against incumbent Kadima leader Tzipi Livni, who both of them detest. They met several times recently to discuss joining forces, including a long meeting Wednesday night that ended at 4 a.m.

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At the press conference at Mofaz’s campaign headquarters in Yehud, Dichter said their political teams would be united. He said he realized that the 11 percent he received in the polls he conducted needed to be used constructively.

“I understood that the primary is less about Kadima’s leadership and more about its future,” Dichter said. “We want to return Kadima to the legacy of [its founder, former prime minister] Ariel Sharon.”

When asked whether his credibility would be harmed by the breaking his promise to activists that he would stay in the race, Dichter said: “It is not a matter of credibility but of worldview – and my worldview is statesmanlike, which requires using my power correctly.”

Asked whether he would stay in Kadima if Livni won, he said “It won’t happen.”

Mofaz praised Dichter’s decision, which he called courageous.

He said that despite Dichter’s calls to join Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government, they would now unite to ensure that not only Livni but also Netanyahu would be defeated.

Mofaz’s strategists said they were convinced that very few of Dichter’s supporters would shift to Livni. They expressed hope that Dichter’s endorsement could decide the race, noting that the votes Dichter won in the last Kadima race were five times Livni’s margin of victory.

Dichter’s endorsement of Mofaz tips the scale of MKs in Kadima in Mofaz’s favor, with 14 backing him and 13 backing Livni. Knesset faction head Dalia Itzik is the only MK who has maintained neutrality.

Livni responded that Dichter’s move was expected and showed that even Dichter and Mofaz realized that Kadima voters preferred her over them. Her associates called Dichter a straw candidate who was never really running.

“Dichter zigzagged and broke all his promises, while Mofaz showed that he was under pressure,” Livni said. “Both of them just want to be spare change in Netanyahu’s government.”

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