The Knesset House Committee voted six to four Monday night to approve a request made by MKs loyal to former foreign minister Tzipi Livni to break off from Kadima in order to run separately in the January 22 election.

In a stormy meeting that lasted nearly three hours, MKs staying in Kadima took turns bashing Livni and her allies. They read embarrassing quotes made by the MKs splitting condemning past splits in other parties and accused Livni of trying to rob the public coffers.

“First you killed us, then you tried to take our inheritance,” Kadima MK Marina Solodkin told MKs who were her faction colleagues until the vote.

Urging Livni’s MKs to pay for Kadima’s debts, MK Ronit Tirosh accused Livni of accruing the debt by approving massive budgets for mayors who ran in municipal races in order to obtain their support in her unsuccessful leadership race against Shaul Mofaz.

MK Yoel Hasson, who made the split request on behalf of the seven departing MKs, responded that the split was inevitable and that they would take whatever party funding and party debts were due to them by law.

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“Most Kadima voters wanted Livni, who would have run even if we did not split,” Hasson told the committee.

“We are splitting before the election and will soon stand before the voters to judge us. That is very different from other politicians who took their mandates and gave them to other parties when there were no elections in sight.”

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and Knesset legal adviser Eyal Yinon defended Livni’s MKs. Yinon said that because Livni had seven MKs ready to leave, according to the law, the House Committee had no choice but to approve the split without taking political and ideological considerations into account.

“The House Committee needs to ask itself if it is permitted to make a political decision based on personalities and not on law,” Rivlin told the MKs. “The committee should consider only professional considerations, not political ones. If the decision on whether to approve a split changes based on who makes the request, we have a problem.”

Besides the Kadima split, the House Committee also voted to let MK Taleb A-Sana split from Ra’am-Ta’al and MK Haim Amsalem break off from Shas. There are now 16 factions in the Knesset.

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