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On the same day that the former 15-man Shinui faction disintegrated, Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert revealed to his ministers on Wednesday their placement on Kadima's list for the next Knesset, clarifying the party's top 15.
Olmert invited the nervous ministers one by one into his office and revealed to them their fate. Some left satisfied, others disappointed, but none of them indifferent. To sweeten the pill, Olmert told them that their placement on the list would not impact who would receive ministerial portfolios in a prospective Kadima-led government.
Kadima's top 15 will apparently be Olmert, Shimon Peres, Tzipi Livni, Avi Dichter, Meir Sheetrit, Haim Ramon, Shaul Mofaz, Uriel Reichman, Tzahi Hanegbi, Marina Solodkin, Dalia Itzik, Gideon Ezra, Avraham Hirchson, Ze'ev Boim and Roni Bar-On.
The names of the top 50 Kadima candidates will be announced in order on Tuesday afternoon in a modest event at the Jerusalem International Convention Center. The event has been limited to only 250 family members of candidates and central party activists out of fear that a flashier event while Sharon is hospitalized would look wrong.
Kadima officials met on Wednesday with several candidates to join the 32 people on the Kadima list who have already been revealed. Union of Local Authorities in Israel chairman Adi Eldar told the Kadima officials that he would only join the Knesset if he were offered an "active position," such as the chairmanship of a Knesset committee.
Eldar's deputy mayor in Karmiel, Rina Goldberg, has been promised that she will be one of at least six Kadima candidates who are immigrants from the former Soviet Union. The immigrants on the list will also include MKs Solodkin and Michael Nudelman, Hebrew University historian Ze'ev Elkin, broadcaster Yulia Berkovich and perhaps supermodel Anastasia Michaeli.
"The Kadima list will have more Russian immigrants in realistic slots than Israel Beiteinu, more religious candidates that will enter the Knesset than the National Religious Party, more security people than Labor and more candidates from development towns than the Likud," a senior Kadima official said.
The religious candidates will include MK David Tal, former Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip head Otniel Schneller, Elkin, Hebrew University rector Menachem Ben-Sasson and perhaps Aryeh Deri's brother, attorney Shlomo Deri.
For the first time since Sharon's hospitalization, Kadima election campaign chairman Hanegbi convened a meeting of the campaign team. They decided to send every Kadima member a magnetic membership card.
Peres sent a letter to Labor Secretary-General Eitan Cabel, officially announcing his resignation from Labor. Peres said in the letter that it would take effect immediately.
Kadima announced on Wednesday that former Histadrut leader and 99-year-old former Labor MK Yitzhak Ben-Aharon had endorsed Kadima. Ben-Aharon vigorously denied it and said that he merely sent a letter to Olmert congratulating him on becoming acting prime minister.
"There is nothing more poisonous and borderline criminal than to give political connotations to a warm greeting sent to a man who is filling in for a sick leader," Ben-Aharon said. "How far have we fallen when a man cannot wish a political opponent well? I am of course not only staying in Labor, but I am tied to Amir in our souls, and I will help him become prime minister."
A Kadima spokesman responded that Ben-Aharon's sons permitted the party to publicize the letter as an endorsement.
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