Kadima MKs trade barbs over haredi conscription

Opposition leader: Vote on IDF service for ultra-orthodox central to Kadima platform, unacceptable for members to refrain from participating.

February 25, 2012 21:01
2 minute read.
MK Tzipi Livni (Kadima)

MK Tzipi Livni (Kadima) 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)


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Opposition leader Tzipi Livni’s attacks on her rivals in the March 27 Kadima leadership race were met over the weekend with fierce criticism in return.

The mutual recriminations began when Livni slammed challengers Shaul Mofaz and Avi Dichter, as well as Mofaz’s allies in her faction, for not showing up Wednesday at a key Knesset vote on Kadima-sponsored bills mandating military and civilian service for the haredim (ultra-Orthodox). She accused them of avoiding the vote in order to find favor with the haredi parties and with hundreds of haredi members of Kadima brought into the party by Mofaz loyalists.

“Kadima is fighting for a principle central to its platform,” Livni said at a cultural event in Holon Saturday. “Each member of Knesset makes decisions according to his own personal considerations, but the public sees everything. After my victory in the primaries, whoever doesn’t accept my ways and the party’s decisions should look for a position elsewhere.”

Mofaz said he missed the vote because he was at a memorial ceremony he attends every year for former Sayeret Matkal officer Eitan Balehsan, who was killed in Lebanon in 1999. His campaign said Livni’s attack showed that she was under pressure.

“I have to come out against the sanctimonious hypocrisy and the cynical use of the media for cheap politics,” Mofaz wrote on Facebook.

“This behavior is shameful. It’s not my way or the way of most of the people in Kadima. I promise you. I am not naive and I don’t intend to compromise on my values.”

Dichter said he missed the vote because he was attending the funeral of his son-in-law’s father. He accused Livni of losing proportion and cynically taking advantage of his grief.

“It is shameful that she didn’t even check why I was absent,” he wrote on Facebook. “And it is even more shameful that she doesn’t know anything about what I have done on this subject in and out of the Knesset.

People who follow what I have done are aware of my work on behalf of equalizing the burden [of service to the state].”

Dichter said the bills Livni had brought to a vote had no chance of passing anyway. In a letter he sent to supporters, he complained that the five-man United Torah Judaism faction had more power than Kadima’s 28 MKs. He vowed that if elected, he would bring Kadima into the coalition immediately.

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