Former Labor head Mitzna joins Livni's list as no. 2

Kadima MK Sheetrit also joins party, making it possible to split Kadima and win more than NIS 9 million in party funding.

Amram Mitzna 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Amram Mitzna 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Former Labor leader Amram Mitzna announced on Sunday that he is leaving his party to join The Tzipi Livni Party and be its number two candidate in the January 22 election.
Earlier on Sunday, Meir Sheetrit became the seventh Kadima MK Livni attracted to her new party, the number needed for the Kadima party split to become legal and to win more than NIS 9 million in party funding.
In a press conference in Tel Aviv, Mitzna echoed Linvi's belief that social justice can only be reached alongside a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"I am convinced that we can reach an agreement with the Palestinians," Mitzna said. "Without such an agreement we will not be able to continue with the Zionist vision," he added.
Mitzna cited the loss of the Labor's way as his reason to leaving the party and joining Livni. He said that when the party was led by the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, he put the peace process on top of the country's agenda, but that now this is no longer the case.
"For the first time since its formation, the Labor party is not talking about the necessity of peace, or the way to achieve peace. It is therefore not a real alternative to [Prime Minister] Netanyahu," Mitzna said.
Labor officials slammed Mitzna for breaking a pledge he signed when he ran for Labor leader to "accept the will of the voters" and remain an active member of the party.
"It is unfortunate the people who purportedly represent clean politics refuse to honor democratic decisions," a Labor spokeswoman said.
The party accused him of joining Livni "as a part of a personal egotistic move that will only harm the Center bloc."
Mitzna said he did not believe he was obligated by what he signed after he was mistreated by Labor.
Mitzna, who has served as mayor of Haifa and Yeroham ran unsuccessfully for prime minister against Ariel Sharon in 2003. He ran again for Labor leader last year and finished in last place.
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Following Linvi's political comeback announcement on Tuesday, she got six political allies in Kadima to sign forms committing to leave for her party: MKs Shlomo Molla, Yoel Hasson, Majallie Whbee, Rachel Adatto, Robert Tibayev and Orit Zuaretz.
While the six were legally permitted to leave Kadima on their own, Livni could only ask the Knesset House Committee for the NIS 1.3m. in party funding that each MK is worth – 60 percent of which is given in a lump sum as a down payment – if she could find a seventh MK willing to jump ship.
Time allotted for election commercials on television and radio is also determined by how many MKs parties have.
In an interview with Army Radio, Sheetrit said he thought that Tzipi Livni was continuing Kadima's initial path.
"I want to continue to advance my diplomatic and socioeconomic agenda," he told Israel Radio. "I think Tzipi Livni is continuing the initial path of Kadima of raising the diplomatic issue and dealing with the socioeconomic issues I have dealt with for years."
He said that even though he criticized and opposed her in the last election, "in the current situation" he thought the right thing to do was to join Livni. "I told [Kadima leader Shaul] Mofaz about my decision before I told her [Livni]," he added.
Sheetrit also mentioned that he had considered forming a new party together with the Pensioners, and he had also thought about retiring.
"I publicly criticized Mofaz for entering the government, which I said would destroy the party. I tried unsuccessfully to split the party then," Sheetrit pointed out.
He stated that he had always had very good relations with Livni, although he thought she made several mistakes which he unsuccessfully tried to prevent her from making. "Livni has the best numbers to run against [Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu]. If everyone drops their ego and all the Center-Left parties join together, maybe we can even topple the government," Sheetrit opined.
Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz worked hard last week to persuade his MKs not to defect to the party being formed by Livni, whom he defeated by a landslide eight months ago in the party’s leadership race.
Livni reached out to almost every Kadima MK, regardless of their ideology and past history.
“Livni has surpassed every limit of chutzpa,” Kadima MK Shai Hermesh said. “We will tear her apart. We will make sure the public knows she cannot even run a corner store. We won’t let her raid our party’s coffers after she left it NIS 34m. in debt.”
Another well-known former public official who may join Livni's list is former state comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss, who wrote several reports critical of Netanyahu and his ministers.
"I am considering Mrs Livni's offer and I will make a decision soon after consulting my family," Lindenstrauss told Israel Hayom.
The only candidate officially announced over the weekend by Livni's party was Jerusalem city councilwoman Merav Cohen. Cohen, 29, was one of the founders of the Hitorerut movement, which aimed at returning young people to Jerusalem and making the holy city attractive to secular people.