Dichter vows to join gov't if he wins Kadima race

Former Shin Bet chief says he sees "supreme importance in Kadima entering the coalition as soon as possible."

Avi Dichter 311 AJ (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Avi Dichter 311 AJ
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Kadima leadership candidate Avi Dichter differentiated himself from his competition on Sunday when he announced he would bring the party into Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition immediately if he wins the March 27 race.
Incumbent Kadima leader Tzipi Livni and her primary challenger, Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Shaul Mofaz, have both said that if elected they would do everything they can to topple Netanyahu’s government. Dichter, who trails both of them, could use time in the government as a senior minister to build himself up politically.
“I am running because I see supreme importance in Kadima entering the coalition as soon as possible,” Dichter said in a press conference at the party’s headquarters in Petah Tikva. “Only under my leadership can this happen immediately after the primary. After my victory on March 27, I intend to immediately begin intensive coalition negotiations with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to determine how we can join so we can impact central issues.”
Dichter said that due to what he called a “strategic mistake” by Livni, Kadima wasted three valuable years not contributing to the state. He said that even though Kadima controlled nearly a quarter of the Knesset with its 28 seats, its influence on the government was zero, while smaller parties contributed dramatically on issues that matter to Kadima.
He said he did not believe Netanyahu’s government would fall within the next year and suggested that the next election could end up being held on time in October 2013.
“With 28 seats, we have the possibility and the ethical obligation to influence the Israeli reality now...” Dichter said. “We should not wait a year and a half until the next election. We should have influence now. Israel needs Kadima in the coalition now. The largest party in the Knesset remaining in the opposition is cynical and dangerous. It displays a lack of national responsibility.”
Dichter said his conditions for joining the government would be beginning a diplomatic process, changing the political system, replacing the Tal Law with more equality in sharing the burden of IDF service, and doing more to bridge societal gaps. He mocked his opponents who believe they will form the next government.
When Livni initiated the race last month, Dichter said if she won he would leave the party. He toned down his promise on Sunday and said that if Livni came out on top, he would have to consider his future, but he would not leave Kadima or quit politics.
“I don’t understand how Kadima deteriorated so low so fast,” he said. “She is responsible. My criticism is professional, not personal. We are not 28 sheep who can be led by the nose.”
In the last Kadima race in 2008, Dichter received only 6.5 percent of the vote, finishing fourth behind Livni, Mofaz, and MK Meir Sheetrit. Dichter said he had learned lessons from the last race that would help him win this time.
Sheetrit has twice delayed deciding whether to run. He said Sunday he would make a decision by the end of the week.
The last day candidates can legally decide to enter the race is February 20.