Livni good for top.
(photo credit: Kadima Spokesperson)
Kadima MKs Eli Aflalo and Otniel Schneller blasted opposition leader Tzipi Livni on Wednesday for statements she made at the Seventh Jerusalem Conference, statements which they perceived as too left-wing and too anti-religious.
Aflalo and Schneller were among the seven MKs that negotiated with the Likud in December and almost left Kadima. Aflalo tried to leave Kadima on his own due to a personal dispute with Livni, but the faction prevented him from taking away his mandate.
Sources close to Shaul Mofaz confirmed reports that he has been in contact this week with officials close to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in an effort to draft a proposal for Kadima to join the government, a proposal that Mofaz hopes to present at Wednesday’s Kadima Council meeting in Petah Tikva. The contacts are being made with Netanyahu’s advisers and other mutual friends, but not politicians in the Likud.
“If we don’t divide the land, there will be one state between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and everyone would have the right to vote,” Livni said during the Tuesday conference in comments her critics saw as too left-wing. “It wouldn’t be a bi-national state. It would be an Arab state. Anyone who is honest with himself must support two democratic states, not out of weakness but out of strength and out of the need to preserve our national home. There is a high price to pay for doing nothing.”
In comments perceived by her party colleagues as anti-religious, Livni said: “Israel’s existence as a Jewish state can no longer be taken for granted. The Jewish state has been taken hostage by ultra-orthodox parties that represent a specific sector and frighten most of the secular public away from Judaism.”
Aflalo said that Livni had taken the party too far away from the centrist agenda of former prime ministers Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert, who purposely included multiple religious and Sephardi candidates on their Knesset slates.
“I am amazed that our party chair – with her anti-religious comments – makes our agenda that of Shinui instead of being the bridge between religious and secular that a centrist party should be,” Aflalo said. “We aren’t centrist anymore. She’s taking us further and further left. She’s causing a rift by making people on the center-right feel that they no longer fit in the party.” Hours later, Aflalo fired off a letter to Livni containing what he described as an “urgent request” to clarify Kadima’s position on dividing Jerusalem as a part of any peace deal. Aflalo was alarmed by recent clarifications by Olmert regarding agreements reached, with Livni’s support, during the Annapolis Conference.
“In my opinion, retreating from parts of Jerusalem is not acceptable to many Kadima members, who firmly oppose – like me – dividing Jerusalem,” wrote Aflalo. Aflalo said that he was deeply alarmed by reports that Olmert – while Livni was serving as foreign minister – had offered to cede control over large parts of east Jerusalem, including all of the Old City except the Jewish Quarter.
Aflalo called upon Livni to raise the issue for discussion during the Kadima faction meeting next Monday, but privately expressed reservations as to whether Livni would comply. “We need to do this in order to begin to formulate a clear policy for Kadima and not simply to continue with a vague policy on this important topic,” wrote Aflalo.