For Kadima, Labor split recalls its own near-division

Livni: This is a bad day for the Netanyahu government but I believe it’s a hopeful day for Israel.

Livni close up 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file[)
Livni close up 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file[)
With a new array of ministerial positions open following the resignations of three Labor ministers, Kadima received news of the Labor split Monday with mixed emotions.
Slightly less than a year after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s explosive attempt to split Kadima by offering up a bouquet of ministries to would-be rebels, memories of that near-split were fresh in the minds of Kadima’s leadership.
RELATED:Herzog, Braverman, Ben-Eliezer resign from governmentAs early as the explosive House Committee meeting that began minutes after Defense Minister Ehud Barak completed his dramatic announcement, Kadima MKs who sought to criticize the split were forced to confront their Likud counterparts’ reminders of yet another split, when Ariel Sharon formed Kadima in 2005.
Kadima MKs responded to the charge of hypocrisy by arguing that Sharon’s split was on ideological grounds, while Barak’s stemmed from personal motivations.
Responding later in the day to the turmoil, Kadima leader Tzipi Livni said that “rivalry within Kadima was crumbling” as the party grew stronger.
“If in the past we saw ideological splits to advance the peace process – and that was how Kadima was formed – today, the split is one of last-resort, fleeing from making ideological decisions,” she said, referring to Barak’s move.
“Here, the division was done by those who are lacking any ideological backbone. We will not allow – and the public will not allow – political wheeling and dealing to win,” she said.
“We learned something else.
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Those who want to split [others], were split. Those who wanted to destroy, were destroyed. And all of those things have one shared camp, and it is called Binyamin Netanyahu and he is – for the time being – prime minister of Israel,” continued Livni in a reference to last February’s attempt by Netanyahu to split Kadima along lines of Livni supporters and supporters of MK Shaul Mofaz.
“Instead of advancing the good of Israel for its citizens, he is dealing with his own political survival,” she said.
Addressing her party’s Knesset faction, Livni said that “this is a bad day for the Netanyahu government but I believe it’s a hopeful day for Israel.”
She also reiterated her calls for elections, promising that Kadima “will continue to work according to our principles, our values, and we will guard and advance our vision, defend democracy and the Israeli public from this awful government.
This government today needs to return the choice to the people and initiate new elections. This time we will not only win the elections, but we will also lead the next government.”
Speaking before Livni at the faction meeting, faction chairwoman Dalia Itzik reflected upon her own departure from the Labor Party, together with former MK Haim Ramon and Shimon Peres when Kadima was established. She also admitted that she had worked hard to bring Kadima in to the current coalition during the government’s first year, while slamming the attempt in late 2009 and early 2010 to split Kadima.
Kadima MK Yohanan Plessner described Monday’s as “a sad day – a day which brought the end of a party that established the State of Israel – and a day in which the political culture in Israel reached a new low of filth and loathing.”
“It is now clear that the only legacy of the Netanyahu government is of political dealing and buying fragments of parties at the expense of the national interest,” he said, also in a reference to Netanyahu’s attempt last year to split Kadima.
Other Kadima MKs seemed to try to outdo each other in their criticism of Netanyahu and Barak, with Orit Zuaretz calling the Labor movement “naked, spineless mollusks.”
MK Otniel Schneller, one of the MKs who last February seemed likely to leave Kadima for the government, received Monday’s news with concern, amid reports that some of the eight remaining Labor MKs might join Kadima. “Swallowing the remains of the Labor Party will finally place us as a clearly left-wing party,” warned the MK who represents Kadima’s right flank. “We must continue to see the centrist way as a concept that differentiates between us and the other parties.”
Kadima MK Shai Hermesh, another former Labor Party member, said that, “the house has crashed; the Kibbutz Movement finds itself on the streets.”
Barak, he said, “will be remembered for generations as somebody who abandoned the people who brought them the throne.
“Labor is are splitting off and proving that they are only opportunists who aren’t interested in advancing diplomacy and peace processes if it means giving up their positions and salaries in exchange for principles and values.”