(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.
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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
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
A Kadima MK who supported Livni in her last race against Mofaz said
he believed Livni would take steps to advance the race.
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.
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.
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.