Mofaz associates: Livni using Lahiani against him in race

Livni rejects accusations after permitting Lahiani to run though he hasn't been Kadima member for requisite period.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
February 16, 2012 04:43
1 minute read.
MK Shaul Mofaz

MK Mofaz 260. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Sources in the Kadima faction close to Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Shaul Mofaz accused opposition leader Tzipi Livni on Wednesday of encouraging Bat Yam Mayor Shlomi Lahiani to enter the Kadima leadership race in order to harm Mofaz.

Livni permitted Lahiani to run even though he has not been a member of Kadima for the required 13 months. The sources said Livni’s goal was to take away Sephardi voters who back Mofaz.

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Lahiani said he would make the decision whether to run by Monday’s deadline for entering the race.

Livni rejected the accusations.

“Nothing of the sort even entered my mind,” she said. “I would let anyone run because we live in a democracy and our party is democratic.”

Livni’s associates said there was no need to pull such a stunt, because according to an automated telephone poll taken by the Kadima campaign, 55 percent of Kadima members support her and only 13% back Mofaz. The rest are undecided.

Lahiani acknowledged that the ongoing criminal investigation he is facing on suspicion of bribery, fraud, breach of trust by a public servant and money laundering “clearly doesn’t help” his chances of getting elected.

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He said another reason not to run was that his family vigorously opposes him entering national politics.

But Lahiani said he wanted to change the country’s priorities.

Lahiani expressed confidence he could beat Livni and Mofaz and even defeat Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

“I can give Bibi a fight better than Shaul and Tzipi,” he said.

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