haim ramon 248.88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Sderot Mayor David Buskila and Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav will serve as the deputies to the new head of the Kadima council, former MK Haim Ramon, sources close to Kadima leader Tzipi Livni revealed Tuesday.
Ramon and his deputies will formally receive their new titles at a ceremony Thursday at the party's headquarters in Petah Tikva.
Livni's associates said the appointment of mayors from opposite ends of the country was symbolic.
"They are two important mayors from the North and South, and it expresses that we are going strong nationwide," a Livni associate said. "We wanted to emphasize that Sderot is important to Kadima not only in a time of war."
Ramon is replacing former Rishon Lezion mayor Meir Nitzan, who left the party for Likud ahead of the last election. Buskila and Yahav will replace former Karmiel deputy mayor Rena Greenberg, who left the party for Israel Beiteinu, and former Rahat mayor Talal Al-Kintawi, who was not re-elected mayor of the Beduin town and is therefore no longer a member of the council.
Knesset members criticized Livni for not replacing Greenberg and Al-Kintawi with another non-Jew and immigrant from the former Soviet Union.
"It is very unfortunate that they did not choose an Arab," said United Arab List MK Taleb A-Sanaa, who is Beduin. "It shows that there is a difference in Kadima between actions and words. They talk about equality but they have discriminated against Arabs when it comes to Knesset candidates and positions in their party."
Sources close to Livni responded that non-Jews would receive other positions in the party and that the deputies from the North and South obviously represent non-Jews living there as well.
Kadima MK Marina Solodkin said the party had still not recovered its support in the immigrant sector since former prime minister Ehud Olmert's broke a promise to appoint her a minister. She complained that she was not consulted about the appointments of Ramon and his deputies.
"In the Russian sector, Kadima needs to rebuild," said Solodkin. "It lost everything from 2006-2009. They don't understand that to be an alternative to the Likud, they need to rebuild the sector from the bottom."
Thursday is 17 Tamuz, a fast day on the Hebrew calendar marking the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem's Old City ahead of the destruction of the Temple.
Kadima officials said they checked with religious members of the party and they decided it would not be a problem to hold the meeting on the day of mourning as long as the event was not festive.
"It is just a formal vote, not a celebration," said Kadima MK Otniel Schneller, who is religious. "The vote had to be held before everyone went on vacation, and I see no problem with doing it on the 17th of Tamuz."