(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi [file])
The Kadima Party will have to join Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's government to ensure its success on the diplomatic front, the party's No. 2 candidate, MK Shaul Mofaz, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
Mofaz had urged Livni to join the government during coalition talks with the Likud, but she chose to disregard his advice. He said he decided to renew his call in the wake of Monday's meeting in Washington between Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama, because he wanted Kadima's views to impact the government's decisions.
"The more the diplomatic plans advance, the more there must be unity in Israel and the more Israel's leadership will have to stand up for its interests," Mofaz said. "The larger the government is, the easier that will be."
He said that in private conversations, nearly all of Kadima MKs agreed with him that the party should be in the government.
He said he believed that even Livni realized it was wrong to reject Netanyahu's overtures.
"I think we should have joined the government from the start but unfortunately Livni made a mistake and didn't consult with Kadima's leaders. She promised to put the good of the country ahead of that of the party and her own personal good in that order, but the good of the country obviously required us to be in the government."
Mofaz's associates said they did not expect a general election in the next three years, but that when one was eventually scheduled, Kadima would have to hold a primary in which he would run against her for a second time.
Sources close to Livni said that not only did she not regret joining the government, but Netanyahu's refusal to utter the mantra of two states for two peoples in his meetings in Washington reinforced her decision that she did not have enough in common with Netanyahu to join his government.
Livni's associates said Netanyahu did not even meet the basic conditions that Mofaz set for Kadima joining his government.
Mofaz responded that Livni was using the "two states for two peoples" line as an excuse to remain in the opposition.
Asked whether she would support joining the coalition if the diplomatic process advanced significantly, her associates said she had promised to lead a responsible opposition that would support positive steps taken by the government.
Other Kadima lawmakers accused Mofaz of harming Kadima with his statements.
MK Meir Sheetrit said that if Kadima entered a government that would not advance a Palestinian state, it would have done the party great damage.
"It's too bad that Mofaz didn't say what he said forcefully enough when it mattered and it is even more unfortunate that he is saying it now when it can only do harm and no good," a Kadima legislator said.
Kadima released a list of messages its party leaders will convey in upcoming days, calling Netanyahu's visit to Washington a missed opportunity and accusing the prime minister of obstinately refusing Obama's overtures due to his fear of the hawks in his party and his coalition.