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Prime Minister and Kadima leader Ehud Olmert decided on Thursday to delay the founding meeting of the Kadima council that had been set for next Monday and that was intended to relaunch Kadima as a "party for the 21st century."
Olmert decided that it would be inappropriate to hold a celebratory political event while the IDF was engaged in operations in the Gaza Strip to bring home kidnapped Cpl. Gilad Shalit. Constant security and diplomatic deliberations also forced Olmert to delay a meeting with new Kadima director-general Yochanan Plesner, in which he was expected to approve the party's new work plan.
Plesner, a Harvard-educated former Prime Minister's Office staffer, compiled a 100-page plan full of milestones and benchmarks, working behind the scenes since the election. For instance, the party's branches will be referred to as "Kadima houses" and will look very different than their predecessors in Likud and Labor.
"We want Kadima to be a party for the 21st century," Plesner said. "It has to be a combination of old and new - to keep the sense of belonging of the old parties while adding new avenues for political participation."
More than a thousand activists had been invited to the Kadima council meeting, which was intended to jump-start a series of meetings across the country to build the party's institutions. Mayors and key activists will meet with Olmert, Kadima houses will be dedicated and a well-advertised voter registration drive will be held nationwide.
Kadima also intends to appoint a comptroller, an internal court and a retired judge to head its election committee, along with completing its management team. Plesner replaced founding director-general Avigdor Yitzhaki after he joined the Knesset.
Plesner, 34, served as an officer in the IDF's elite General Staff Reconnaissance Unit (Sayeret Matkal) during the first intifada and a lecturer for the Israeli consulate in New England in the second. He earned a master's in public administration at Harvard concentrating on international security and political economy, while speaking regularly on Israel's behalf on campuses and to Jewish organizations.
After graduation, Plesner served as a senior long-term strategic analyst at a Washington-based think tank, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment. From there, he moved to the Prime Minister's Office, where he worked for former director-general Ilan Cohen on special projects that included reforming the public service and police and fighting violence and crime.