Shaul Mofaz at the Western Wall 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
New Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz intends to send messengers soon to his predecessor in the post, MK Tzipi Livni, to persuade her to remain in politics and in the party.
Mofaz’s associates said he recognized the electoral value Livni has in the general public even after his trouncing of her in Tuesday’s primary. They said Mofaz would be willing to grant her a special role in decision-making in the party and reserve the second slot on Kadima’s Knesset list for her as she did for him in the last general election in 2009.
But sources close to Livni said it was very unlikely that she would accept Mofaz’s offer. They described her as fed up with politics and ready to leave, at least temporarily.
Livni remained at her Tel Aviv home Wednesday, speaking to family and close friends but has yet to decide her political future. She briefly addressed reporters Tuesday night to inform them that she had conceded to Mofaz but she refused to answer questions.
“She is feeling a lot of pain right now,” said Kadima House Committee chairman Tzahi Hanegbi, who spoke to her Wednesday. “We need to give her time to make up her mind.”
In case he does not succeed in wooing Livni, Mofaz intends to bring back into the party Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center founder Uriel Reichman, who was on Kadima’s first list in 2006 but quit the Knesset when he was not given the Education portfolio. Reichman is seen as having many of Livni’s strengths.
Mofaz received congratulatory phone calls from President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich, and journalist-turned-politician Yair Lapid. Mofaz will soon meet with Netanyahu within the framework of the regular update meetings held between the prime minister and the leader of the opposition, in addition to meeting with Peres next week.
The Knesset is currently in recess, but the next time it convenes, Mofaz will go through the procedure of formally replacing Livni as the head of the opposition. Mofaz will convene his Knesset faction for the first time next week ahead of Passover.
When Shas chairman Eli Yishai called Mofaz, he urged him to join what the interior minister called a national emergency government. But Mofaz made clear that he had no intention of joining Netanyahu’s coalition.
“Kadima is an alternative to the Netanyahu government and I intend to replace him, unite and strengthen Kadima and lead it to victory,” Mofaz said, following symbolic visits to Mount Herzl and the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
A Dahaf Institute poll taken after his victory on Wednesday and broadcast on Channel 10 indicated that Mofaz has a challenge ahead of him in gathering enough support to compete with Netanyahu.
The poll found that if elections were held now, Likud would win 32 seats, Kadima and Labor would each garner 15, Israel Beiteinu 14, and Lapid’s as yet unformed party nine.