Labor chairwoman MK Shelly Yacimovich 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert promised not to endorse any candidate in the
March 27 Kadima primary in a controversial meeting at his Tel Aviv office
Thursday with opposition leader Tzipi Livni.
Olmert has been quoted
recently expressing support for Livni’s chief rival, Knesset Foreign Affairs and
Defense Committee chairman Shaul Mofaz. But Olmert has since decided to remain
neutral in the race.
Livni, Mofaz set for March 27 showdown
Journalist-turned-politician Yair Lapid also
consulted with Olmert before he decided to enter politics two weeks ago. Olmert
has also met recently with Mofaz.
Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich blasted
all three politicians for meeting with Olmert, who is facing multiple
indictments in corruption scandals.
“Lapid, and now Livni, are
shamelessly embarking on pilgrimages to Olmert to get the blessing of a man
being investigated for terrible crimes,” Yacimovich said. “It sends the wrong
message to our children.”
Former police investigations chief Moshe
Mizrahi, who is running for a Knesset seat with Labor added that “it’s important
that the public knows who has been adopted as a spiritual leader by Livni and
Lapid. Who preaches clean politics?” Livni and her strategists met Thursday
night at her Tel Aviv home with 10 Kadima MKs who support her candidacy. Mofaz
met with supporters in the North.
Polls broadcast Thursday found that
Kadima voters preferred Livni over Mofaz by a wide margin.
A Panel poll
broadcast on the Knesset Channel found that the general public preferred Livni
22 to 15 percent, but Kadima voters favored Livni 72% to 22%.
Mohot poll broadcast on Channel 10 found that the general public preferred Livni
28% to 15%, but Kadima voters favored Livni 34% to 24%. The poll predicted that
Kadima would win 13 seats under Livni and nine under Mofaz.
poll, which did not specify who would lead Kadima, predicted that it would fall
from being the Knesset’s largest party to only its fifth, behind Likud, Labor,
Israel Beiteinu and Lapid’s party.
Neither of the polls were among the
100,000 Kadima members who will be eligible to vote in the primary. But Livni’s
spokesman said he expected the members to take the polls into
“The members cannot ignore the clear majority Tzipi enjoys among
Kadima voters and MKs,” he said. “This is not a meter-technical issue but a key
matter of principle.”
Mofaz’s associates said many of the people
identified as Kadima voters in the last election no longer backed the party.
They downplayed Mofaz’s poor showing and emphasized that Livni had brought the
party down from 28 seats to only 13.