Dichter leads challenge to Livni over Kadima spending

Half the party’s Knesset faction backs petition demanding budget transparency after TV probe.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
June 10, 2011 02:47
1 minute read.
Tzipi Livni at a live Q&A session, Sunday.

tzipi livni_311. (photo credit: Idan Gross )

 
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Kadima leader Tzipi Livni faced a challenge on Thursday when half of her faction’s 28 MKs expressed support for a petition demanding transparency over the party’s budget.

The MKs, led by former Kadima-leadership candidate Avi Dichter, were upset by a Channel 10 investigation last week that found the party wastes much of the NIS 22 million in taxpayer funding it receives annually on bloated administrative salaries, empty party branches, employing vote contractors who have side jobs, and paying back the party’s NIS 30 million debt accrued from unwise and unsuccessful municipal campaigns.

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Dichter, who said he was embarrassed by the probe, wrote a set of principles for Kadima’s budget, which he is demanding to present at next Monday’s faction meeting.

Kadima MKs were angry when they received a text message last Sunday night that the following day’s faction meeting was canceled, presumably because Livni did not want to discuss the investigation.

Ten MKs signed Dichter’s proposal, including Livni’s rival, Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee head Shaul Mofaz, pro-Livni MKs, including Gideon Ezra, and respected independent MKs like Marina Solodkin.

Four additional MKs did not sign the proposal, but expressed support for it.

“Our goal is to rehabilitate how the budget is administered,” Dichter wrote. “The MKs of Kadima are its sovereign power, and it’s important that our party’s declared goal be achieved: providing a different, cleaner kind of politics.”

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MKs reported being pressured by Livni’s associates to drop their support for the petition, but sources close to Livni denied that they called MKs on the matter.

“We don’t see this as against us,” a Livni associate said. “There are always debates on the budget in the party. Dichter had a proposal last year, too. It is legitimate internal debate in the party, and it’s not problematic.”

Sources close to Livni denied that 10 MKs had signed the petition, and said those who did meant well.

“This is for Tzipi, not opposing her,” Solodkin said. “Dichter’s principles make sense. There is no reason clerks in the party should make more money than MKs. They are not such geniuses to justify such budgets.”

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