MK Tzipi Livni (Kadima) 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Kadima leader Tzipi Livni does not intend to rush to make a decision on whether
to initiate a leadership race in her party after the Likud set its primary for
January 31, sources close to Livni said Tuesday.
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Livni missed the
hullabaloo in the Knesset on Monday over Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s
announcement about advancing the Likud race, because she was on her way back
from Washington, where she spoke at the Saban Forum.
Since her return,
she has been meeting with Kadima MKs one-by-one to seek their advice. So far,
she heard from MKs who have said that Kadima cannot be the only party to not
hold its leadership race and others who have said it would look wrong to make a
decision based on Netanyahu’s move.
“Bibi makes his decisions according
to his own interests and it shouldn’t impact other parties,” a Livni adviser
said. “We have to decide whether to dance to the Likud’s fiddle.”
associates said she would wait until “the dust settles” before deciding, while
watching whether Netanyahu’s move creates momentum for advancing a general
election. She will also consider whether holding a Kadima leadership primary
could result in a split in the party after the race.
Just last week,
Livni scored a big political victory when she withstood a rebellion in her
faction and passed a proposal to delay discussions about holding a new
leadership race until at least May.
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But sources in Kadima who support
Livni said that vote was now “irrelevant” following Netanyahu’s decision to
advance his party’s primary.
MKs Shaul Mofaz and Avi Dichter, who ran
against Livni in 2008, said that after Labor elected a leader in September,
Likud will next month, and Meretz in February, Kadima must elect its candidate
for prime minister by March.
“The opening shot of the election has been
fired,” Shaul Mofaz told reporters at the Knesset. “In the army, it is said that
those who want peace must prepare for war, and I say that those who want to
topple the government and present an alternative must understand that, to be
ready, we must hold primaries.”
Regarding Livni’s attempt to avoid
initiating a leadership race, Mofaz predicted that “even those holding onto
power with their last legs will eventually crack.”
Dichter told Israel
Radio that he asked Livni a year-and-a-half ago to hold primaries at the
beginning of 2011 and he wished she would have agreed. He predicted that enough
support for advancing the primary could be found in the Kadima
“I believe there will be new deliberations on the matter,” he
said. “There are enough sane MKs in Kadima who see what’s happening in the other
parties and that it requires that Kadima not be left behind.”
officials denied a report in Yediot Aharonot
that efforts were underway again to
try to split the faction by getting seven MKs to defect to
Netanyahu has tried unsuccessfully to split Kadima. He could use
the current anger at Livni in Kadima to try the move again. But Kadima MKs
involved in past efforts to split the party said they preferred to wait and see
whether their party would have a new leader after the Kadima primary.
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