Kadima leader Tzipi Livni initiated a battle over her job in a press conference
at her party’s headquarters in Petah Tikva on Wednesday, announcing that the
Kadima leadership race would be held on March 27.
Livni had been under
pressure to advance the contest after primaries were held in Labor, moved up in
Likud, set in Meretz, and initiated in Habayit Hayehudi. Her announcement came
just one day after her party rival, Shaul Mofaz, accused her of delaying the
race out of fear that it would end her political career.
“On March 27,
the members of Kadima will re-elect their chairwoman and Israeli citizens will
know who the Zionist majority’s candidate for prime minister will be,” she said
“This primary will decide not only who will head Kadima,
but whether the extremist government of Netanyahu will stay in power. Only
Kadima under me can defeat Netanyahu.”
Livni said she had decided to move
up the primary to the date that was best for Kadima and did not take into
account “the will or caprice” of any of her rivals. She made reference to
journalist-turned-politician Yair Lapid and said Kadima must be ready to take
“There are people entering politics and I think it’s positive
when anyone wants to contribute, including Lapid, who is drafting a platform
that is Kadima’s,” she said.
“But everyone must be responsible. His
entering [politics] can either strengthen the bloc that wants to replace the
government or it can weaken it. There is only one candidate for prime minister
[in our bloc], and if Netanyahu remains prime minister, it’s a loss for all of
Livni warned her rivals in Kadima that she would not let
infighting destroy the party.
She rejected their demands to appoint an
independent arbiter to run the race, and that she announce that she will stay in
the party if she loses.
Mofaz: Livni's reign atop Kadima has
Livni refuses to stand behind Mofaz if she
Yair Lapid rejects calls to join
“Whoever wants to leave can leave, but they must
accept the verdict of the election,” she said defiantly. “No one can scold me.
The election will be run transparently.”
Speaking to students at Tel Aviv
University on Wednesday, Mofaz acted like he had already won the
“Tzipi Livni is no longer Kadima leader as of today,” he said.
“Kadima was badly harmed by her weak, tired and ambivalent management. I will restore Kadima to its rightful place as the true
alternative. Today, the journey en route to Netanyahu’s defeat has
MKs Avi Dichter and Meir Sheetrit, who fared poorly in the 2008
Kadima leadership race against Mofaz and Livni, may also join the race. But both
hinted that they would back Mofaz if given a choice between him and
“I am glad Livni finally realized that Kadima must choose new
leadership to prevent the party from falling off the political map,” Sheetrit
said. “I definitely see myself heading the party and I will decide over the
coming weeks whether to run.”
Dichter demanded assurances that Kadima’s
budget would not be used as Livni’s private campaign fund.
deteriorated Kadima to depths we never thought we could reach,” Dichter said.
“Under her leadership, we will end up like the Costa Concordia [the ship that
capsized near Italy]. Last time, I said no matter who wins I would help them.
But this time if she wins, I will have to consider whether to stay in the
Both Labor and Likud released statements eulogizing Kadima and
denouncing the party as no longer relevant.
“Livni’s attempt to present
herself as the one who could topple Netanyahu is laughable and disconnected from
reality,” Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich said.
“Kadima is confused,
divided and lacks ideology, and its political path has ended. It never
accomplished its diplomatic goals, and on socioeconomic issues, it is just as
capitalist as Likud. Labor is the only alternative.”