Kadima might move up primary for its leadership

Labor to hold run-off race for party head; sources close to Kadima leader Tzipi Livni say she may move up primaries to prepare for elections.

tzipi livni_311 (photo credit: Idan Gross )
tzipi livni_311
(photo credit: Idan Gross )
The attention in Israeli politics is currently focused on Labor ahead of Wednesday’s run-off race, but it has become increasingly likely that afterward the political focus will shift to Kadima.
Kadima’s bylaws state that the party must hold a leadership race within three months before a general election, but sources close to Kadima leader Tzipi Livni said she would consider initiating a race soon in order to start getting ready for the next general election.
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Officials close to Livni are divided about whether advancing the race would do more harm than good. They expressed concern that if she beat her likely-challenger Shaul Mofaz too far ahead of a general election, he could take action to split the party.
Mofaz’s associates said he would not take action to bring about the advancement of the Kadima leadership race, because he does not want to be seen as undermining Livni. But they stressed that he was not afraid of a primary and that he certainly would not stand in the way if someone initiated a race.
Calls have been increasing in Kadima in recent days for the party to expedite its primary.
Kadima MKs have said their party must initiate an election process following the Labor vote in order to prevent Labor’s new leader from taking away their supporters.
“It’s no secret that in Kadima, the party chairman must get re-elected before a general election,” Kadima’s Knesset faction head Dalia Itzik said. “Last time, we did it three months before the election according to our bylaws, and I think it was a mistake. Before a general election, our energies must be directed out, not in.”
A Kadima MK who supported Livni in her last race against Mofaz said he believed Livni would take steps to advance the race.
“We shouldn’t have questions hovering over our leadership,” he said. “I think she’ll realize it’s in her interest to advance the primary.
Then again, she won’t do it unless she is sure she will win.”
Meanwhile, in the Labor race, candidates Shelly Yacimovich and Amir Peretz made last-minute preparations ahead of Wednesday’s vote.
Yacimovich received a boost when an internal party court ruled that some 1,300 college students who are Labor members and have moved to their campuses can vote close to their new address.
Yacimovich received an official endorsement on Monday from Histadrut Labor Federation chief Ofer Eini, who has a bitter rivalry with Peretz. The Peretz campaign issued a statement responding that they expected workers to vote for Peretz despite pressure on them to vote for Yacimovich.
Peretz received an endorsement on Monday from Yariv Ben-Eliezer, grandson of former prime minister David Ben-Gurion, and from two figures who are considered on the extreme Left of the political map, Oslo Accords drafter Ron Pundak and Avraham Burg.
Sources close to Peretz said they were not overly-concerned about losing votes due to the endorsement of Burg, who has called for the end of Zionism, changing the law of return, and ceasing to define Israel as a Jewish state.