Itzik working to prevent split in Kadima

Flurry of reports about new Likud offer and Mofaz leadership ultimatum.

By BY GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
February 11, 2010 22:03
2 minute read.
Dalia Itzik.

Dalia Itzik . (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )

 
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Kadima faction chairwoman Dalia Itzik mediated Thursday between the party’s top two politicians, MKs Tzipi Livni and Shaul Mofaz, in an effort to prevent a split in the party that could result from the growing animosity between the two.

Past problems inside Kadima have been mediated by MK Tzahi Hanegbi, but he is considering running for the party leadership, so officials from both of the party’s camps said Itzik was the only “responsible adult” left who could settle the dispute over when the next Kadima leadership race should take place.

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“I am not sure if a compromise can be reached, because it is really complicated, but there has to be a way to overcome it,” Itzik told The Jerusalem Post. “Our voters gave us 28 seats, and anything else would betray them. We owe it to them to stay together.”

After a brief period of calm in Kadima, tensions in the party erupted anew over three headlines on Thursday that were denied by one side and confirmed by another.

Yisrael Hayom reported that Likud officials had told Mofaz that if 15 MKs split from Kadima, six would be appointed ministers, six would be deputy ministers and three would be given Knesset committee chairmanship. Netanyahu’s office denied the report; Mofaz’s spokeswoman confirmed it.

Later Thursday, Ynet reported that Mofaz had issued a new ultimatum that if a date were not set for a Kadima primary by the end of the month, he would split the party. Mofaz’s spokeswoman emphatically denied that he had issued an ultimatum or spoken about splitting Kadima, but MKs confirmed it.

On Thursday night, Channel 1 reported that a Kadima party official loyal to Livni had set up a Facebook group that called Livni’s faction enemies names like “baldy,” “whore,” “underminer,” “loser,” and “traitor.” Kadima denied any connection to the Facebook group, but the operator of the group confirmed the report on tape.

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Amid these reports, the dispute over when the party’s leadership race should be held intensified Thursday, when Livni’s associates said she would not accept a primary any earlier than 2013. Mofaz initially called for an immediate primary within three months, but he is now willing to settle for March 2011.

Mofaz wants the matter to come to a vote at the February 24 Kadima council meeting, but Livni’s associates said the meeting might not deal with the issue.

Mofaz could end up bringing to the council a concrete offer from Likud to join the government.

A Kadima MK loyal to Mofaz said she was convinced that he did not want to break off from Kadima, because he believed that the only way he could become prime minister was as head of Kadima. But another MK from his camp said there was no chance for him to beat Livni, as the party’s stiff rules were in her favor, so he might as well leave the party now and join the government, where he could have an impact on the Iran issue that was so important to him.

Sources close to Livni said they were convinced that Mofaz was determined to sabotage Livni and destroy Kadima.

On Thursday evening, Livni met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for the first time since Netanyahu openly tried to split Kadima in December. Spokesmen for Netanyahu and Livni said they had discussed diplomatic and security issues, and not politics.

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