Kadima faction to grill PM over talks with Abbas

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
September 25, 2007 22:19

MKs intend to complain to Olmert about being left in the dark on issues dicussed, including J'lem division.

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Kadima ministers and MKs intend to complain to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert about being left in the dark about his negotiations with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas when the faction meets for the first time in four months after Succot. Olmert filled the vacancy left by the departure of former faction chairman Avigdor Yitzhaki in May when he appointed MK Eli Aflalo to the post on Monday. Aflalo said he would devote his first faction meeting when the Knesset returns from its summer recess on October 8 to discussing the Olmert-Abbas meetings and Vice Premier Haim Ramon's plan to divide Jerusalem. The faction did not meet for a month before the Knesset recess, angering many backbench MKs who use faction meetings to raise key issues. Ministers later joined in the criticism, miffed that Olmert declined to reveal to them concessions he made to Abbas. "Not holding meetings is a violation of the diplomatic process," MK Marina Solodkin said. "Being in the ruling faction has its pluses and minuses, and the plus of having influence on decision-making we haven't seen in three months. We have had no platform to raise the issues that we believe in." Olmert opponents in Kadima said the fierce criticism against Ramon and Olmert in last Thursday's party council meeting would be amplified in a faction meeting held behind closed doors. They said such a meeting could lead to new insurrection against Olmert in the party. The prime minister has tried to quell rebellions inside the party by promising potential rebels political appointments. He appointed one potential rebel in Aflalo, while making new promises to two more, MKs David Tal and Majallie Whbee. The former is expected to be named Knesset House Committee chairman and the latter a deputy minister. Kadima MK Shlomo Breznitz, an Olmert ally, handed in his resignation to Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik on Tuesday morning. In the letter, he wrote that he quit because at the age of 71 he wanted to focus the rest of his life on his company, which he founded eight years ago. He said it had been an honor to serve in the Knesset, but added, "I need the company more than it needs me." He said he had loved a good portion of his work in the Knesset and was thankful to Olmert for giving him the opportunity. Breznitz will be replaced in the Knesset by Kadima director-general Yohanan Plesner, a Harvard graduate who is close to Olmert. Plesner, 35, has two daughters and served in the IDF's elite Sayeret Matkal, the General Staff's elite reconnaissance unit.


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