Edri backs Mofaz, Sheetrit likely to join next week

Retired judge who convicted former PM Sharon’s son to head Kadima election committee.

Shaul Mofaz 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS)
Shaul Mofaz 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Momentum in the Kadima leadership race remained with MK Shaul Mofaz on Wednesday as MK Ya’acov Edri announced he would back him in the March 27 primary.
“Kadima has gone through a difficult period,” Edri said.
“When things are going in the wrong direction for a team, you fire the manager. I respect [party leader] Tzipi [Livni], but I think Mofaz can fix things. No matter who wins, it’s important that when it’s over, we all unite behind the winner.”
Edri’s endorsement brought the number of Kadima MKs who back Mofaz up to 12, just one less than incumbent Livni.
The only Kadima MKs who have not endorsed a candidate are neutral faction head Dalia Itzik, third candidate Avi Dichter, and MK Meir Sheetrit, who will announce next week whether he will run, as he did in 2008.
A source who spoke to Sheetrit received an impression he would stay out of the race and support Mofaz instead.
The source said Sheetrit’s top priority was unseating Livni.
Representatives of the three announced candidates met Wednesday night in an effort to reach compromises on how the primary will be run. They agreed the party’s election committee would be headed by retired Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court judge Edna Beckenstein.
Beckenstein made news six years ago when she sentenced the son of Kadima’s founder, former prime minister Ariel Sharon, former MK Omri Sharon, to a nine-month prison term, a nine-month suspended sentence and a NIS 300,000 fine after he was convicted of violating political fundraising laws and providing false testimony.
Mofaz’s representative at the meeting in which Beckenstein was chosen was new MK Avi Duan, who was sworn in to the Knesset Wednesday after former MK Eli Aflalo’s resignation took effect. Duan decided to be statesmanlike on his first day and did not get into politics in his maiden speech.
Duan said in the speech this is the “actualization of something Zionist and great,” and becoming an MK is a dream come true. Duan took advantage of his time at the podium to address Welfare Minister Moshe Kahlon, who was in the plenum, as a former social worker.
The new Kadima MK said the agreement between the Welfare Ministry and social workers following their strike last year “slaughtered them,” and the government must give social workers the tools to help weaker populations.
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.