Kadima portfolios could be decided by who quits for Arab

MK Ruhama Avraham-Balila could have an advantage over other candidates for cabinet portfolios Kadima is expected to receive.

Kadima - Arab - Ahmed Dabbah (photo credit: GIL HOFFMAN)
Kadima - Arab - Ahmed Dabbah
(photo credit: GIL HOFFMAN)
MK Ruhama Avraham-Balila could have an advantage over other candidates for cabinet portfolios Kadima is expected to receive in upcoming months: She, unlike her rivals, is willing to quit the Knesset for Ahmed Dabbah.
Dabbah became next in line to enter the Knesset with Kadima 10 days ago, when MK Gideon Ezra died of lung cancer.
A resident of Deir el-Asad, near Karmiel, Dabbah made news when he brought more than 1,000 Kadima members from the village to vote for Shaul Mofaz in the March 27 primary, more than the votes Mofaz and Tzipi Livni combined received in Tel Aviv.
Kadima, the largest party with 28 MKs, has only one cabinet member, Mofaz.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Vice Premier Mofaz are said to have unwritten understandings that Kadima will receive at least three more portfolios in August after a deal is worked out on a replacement for the “Tal Law” that would equalize the burden of IDF service.
The party could receive more ministries if another coalition partner leaves the government.
The three top candidates for portfolios are former ministers Avi Dichter, Meir Sheetrit and Avraham, who were all near the top of Kadima’s candidates list in the 2009 election. But while Dichter and Sheetrit have refused to quit the Knesset when they receive a portfolio to allow Dabbah to enter, Avraham said she welcomed the idea.
“I am thankful to Ruhama for saying that,” Dabbah said. “I didn’t think about [entering the Knesset], because I can’t force anyone to leave. If a place gets available I will enter, and if not, everyone has their fate in life. But if someone gets a portfolio I would appreciate it if they leave for me.”
Dabbah called it “a serious problem” that since MK Akram Hasson replaced Ezra in the Knesset, Kadima now has two Druse representatives and still has never had an Arab MK. If Dabbah entered the current Knesset, he would be its 17th non-Jew, which would be a record.
“I am happy for Hasson, but two Druse and no Arab does not make sense,” Dabbah said. “This is something the chairman of the party [Mofaz] has to take care of. I’ll wait patiently see how it develops and then sit with the chairman about it.”
When Sheetrit was asked whether he would quit for Dabbah, he said: “Why? I won't quit for anyone.”
Dichter called the suggestion “Not a good idea,” adding that Dabbah is “just one man, not a whole sector.”
Mofaz’s associates said it was too early to speculate about who would be given portfolios that the party does not know yet whether it would receive. But a source close to Mofaz called conditioning quitting the Knesset on receiving a portfolio so Dabbah could enter “a good idea.”