Geula Cohen is not surprised that her son Tzahi Hanegbi, who once tangled with the army in protest over Israel's evacuation from Sinai, left the Likud Wednesday for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's centrist party Kadima.
"It's not new," Cohen told The Jerusalem Post. "He has been changing slowly over time."
While the two once stood together in opposition to relinquishing territory, it has long been clear to her that her son was shifting, while she stood firm, she said.
"The difference between us today is that I'm willing to break my head against the wall," said Cohen, while her son is looking for a way to break down the wall.
"We fought in Sinai, and we failed," said Cohen, a former right-wing MK.
This was not the first time that her son had moved toward the center, Cohen said. She recalled how Hanegbi told her that he was leaving Tehiya, the small right-wing group that she had started in opposition to the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.
"He told me he was joining the Likud because he wants to have influence on the government. Who is in the government? Those who are willing to make compromises. I am one who is not willing to compromise," Cohen said. "As a result, I will never be in the government."
She had always told him that what was most important was to follow his beliefs rather than to stick with frameworks that no longer work, Cohen said. She herself, for example, left the Likud and moved right to form Tehiya.
"I taught him to act according to his conscience," she said. "He isn't required to hold true to my ideals, he has to hold true to his own."
Among the reasons Hanegbi moved to Kadima was that he felt a closeness to Sharon, she said. Ironically, she noted, he learned to love and respect him from her.
"I was always coming home and talking about how I was with Sharon back when he supported construction in the territories," she said.
Cohen dismissed as ridiculous claims that her son had shifted parties in reaction to allegations of corruption against him. She said she was proud of her son, trusted his integrity and believed him to be innocent.
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