Kadima plans ahead for budget brawl

Party heads tried to prevent a mutiny by arranging a workshop with Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
October 4, 2006 23:46
2 minute read.
hirchson  kadima members budget meeting

hirchson budget 298 88. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

 
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The heads of Kadima tried to prevent a rebellion in the ranks of the party on Wednesday by arranging a workshop for Kadima MKs on the 2007 state budget with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's political ally, Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson. The meeting was organized amid fears that frustrated Kadima backbenchers could prevent the budget from passing by the March deadline and topple their own government. Ministers were asked not to attend the four hours of meetings at the Knesset and the Finance Ministry. The MKs took turns bashing their own party leadership for failing to keep election promises and abandoning their political agenda. MKs said after the meetings that they were not sure whether they would support the budget and that they did not feel the need to be loyal to party discipline during the vote. MK Marina Solodkin slammed the government for not finding a solution to Kassam rockets fired near her home town of Ashkelon, the Finance Ministry for not freezing the wages of top government workers and the heads of Kadima for not moving forward with promises to change the governmental system. MK Amira Dotan questioned the government's lack of long-term strategic planning and its failure to take advantage of the strengths of Kadima MKs. MK David Tal criticized the government's socioeconomic priorities. MK Ronit Tirosh spoke about the party's policies on education. "This party is being mismanaged and it is only a matter of time before we get more public with our frustration," a Kadima MK said. "We all have our grievances, but the problem is that we have nowhere else to go." A Kadima MK confirmed reports that the MKs have discussed drafting the necessary MKs to leave the party and form an independent faction. Kadima faction chairman Avigdor Yitzhaki, who has been very critical of Olmert, said the meeting was intended to allow MKs to study the budget and get their problems with the budget addressed long ahead of votes in the Knesset. MKs have expressed frustration in years past with budget proposals presented to them as a fait accompli that they were forced to vote for or against based on coalition or opposition discipline. Yitzhaki said he hoped other parties in the coalition would make an effort to study the budget in advance of the vote. "I hope every MK learns about what is in the budget instead of merely spouting slogans," Yitzhaki said. "But the Labor leadership primary is coming up [in May] so I am afraid the Labor MKs will act out of populism and not out of responsibility in hopes of capturing the chairmanship." Hirchson warned that if the budget were not passed on time, the weakest sectors of the population would be harmed.

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