After almost a week of silence, Kadima delivered a resounding "no" Monday to MK Eli Aflalo's request for a mutually-agreed split from the Knesset's largest faction.
Minutes after the unanimous vote, Aflalo reiterated his disappointment with the direction taken by his party's leadership, but later announced he would not unilaterally leave the faction.
Kadima voted on Aflalo's letter, submitted last Tuesday, during its weekly faction meeting. MKs during the closed-door meeting reportedly called on the veteran politician to hold "a dialogue" and "reconciliation" with his former party ally Livni.
Prior to the vote, Aflalo explained before his fellow party members why he submitted the request, emphasizing his loss of faith in Livni, whom he formerly supported, due to alleged improprieties in her administration of internal party politics.
"I want to remind you that without me, you would not have been chosen to lead Kadima - so whose mandate is it really?" Aflalo asked the party chairwoman. "I don't remember an instance in which people used people, faithful as I am, and then did everything to make sure that they were far away from them."
Tzahi Hanegbi and other MKs refuted Aflalo's claims, arguing in the meeting that people voted Kadima for Livni, whose name was on the ballot, and not for anyone else on the Kadima slate.
But the focus of Aflalo's complaints were not regarding personal loyalty. "Where is the 'other' politics? In the course of the last year, I presented you with many facts and made my allegations to you eye-to-eye. Each time, you were regretful in retrospect, and you said that you didn't know, but you never took responsibility for the serious and inappropriate activities of people who worked beneath you." Aflalo blamed Livni for the current, fractured, state of the party, in which over half of the 28 MKs allegedly held talks with the coalition in order to split from Kadima. "If you had checked the claims and made conclusions we would not have reached this state."
Livni, complained one source close to Aflalo, did not respond to the majority of Aflalo's allegations in her response to his speech.
After the vote, Aflalo reiterated earlier complaints that "I lost my faith in Livni when her supporters worked against me in the primary, even after I aided her. I killed myself for her. It was because of me she won the primary."
Aflalo is considered a top campaigner in periphery communities that tended to initially favor challenger MK Shaul Mofaz over Livni.
Despite Aflalo's animosity towards Livni, he added, "I respect the faction's decision. I thanked them for the warm words. Friends are dear to me. I have no plans to quit unilaterally."
If Aflalo had split from the party without the faction's blessing, he would have faced heavy sanctions that would have effectively prevented him from serving as an MK or being re-elected in the next elections.
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