Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu appeared to have obtained the seven Kadima MKs
needed to bring about a split in the party, in late-night meetings on
He has been trying for three years to split Kadima, and his
efforts have borne fruit in meetings with its lawmakers over the past two
Such a split could help Netanyahu widen his coalition again, pass
the 2013 state budget, and avoid early elections.
Knesset House Committee
chairman Yariv Levin was told to get ready to approve a split in Kadima as early
Past attempts to split Kadima were unsuccessful because they
But this time, Netanyahu is relying on former minister
Tzachi Hanegbi, who is angry at Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz for removing the party
from the coalition and who has been trying to persuade seven Kadima MKs to leave
together with him to the Likud.
While Hanegbi, who is not currently in
the Knesset, has reportedly been promised a cabinet position in Netanyahu’s
government, his perjury conviction two years ago could prevent him from
receiving the post.
Mofaz accused Netanyahu of “stooping to the lowest
kind of political bribery.”
As of press time Sunday, the MKs who had
confirmed that they wanted to leave Kadima for the Likud were Otniel Schneller,
Ya’acov Edri, Arieh Bibi, Avi Duan and Yulia Shamolov Berkovich. Under the deal
in the making, Bibi, who is a former chief of the Jerusalem police, will be
deputy public security minister, while Duan, who is a veteran social worker,
will be deputy welfare and social services minister.
Schneller said he
was sure he could find at least two more MKs to leave with them.
surprise you,” he said. “We are in a process of talking. I don’t want to say
names yet, because it’s sensitive and real.”
When asked specifically
about former Kadima leadership candidate Avi Dichter, Schneller said that “when
the train comes, he will have to decide whether to get on or get left
Schneller said the latest the move could take place would be
“I think whoever doesn’t leave this week or next will be stuck
in the used-up cigarette butt that Kadima has become,” Schneller
“Kadima in the next term won’t be in its current form. It has
finished its path with the help of [former Kadima heads] Tzipi Livni and Ehud
Olmert, who are working from outside to make sure the party doesn’t survive.
Mofaz will pay the price for his mistake of entering the coalition only as a
show in order to leave for no reason and slam the door behind him.”
called the Likud his “political home” and his current Kadima party a mess. He
said he knew that he would return to the Likud eventually, but he was not sure
One possibility that is unlikely is that seven MKs from Kadima’s
Right and Left flanks will break off from the party together and then split
again. The MKs on the Left, who are loyal to Livni, said she would not want them
to take such a step.
“We wouldn’t join with the MKs on the Right in a
split, because we don’t want to strengthen Netanyahu,” MK Shlomo Molla said. “No
one with integrity could do something like that. The Right will have to find
seven MKs on its own.”
Another Kadima lawmaker said he was willing to
leave Kadima in the past but he now thinks Netanyahu is vulnerable and could be
defeated if the party stays together.
“If they had seven, I am sure they
would have left by now,” the MK said.