Kadima rebels threaten to split party

Rebel MKs say that raising the value-added tax from its current 16 percent to 17% reason enough to leave.

Shaul Mofaz 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Shaul Mofaz 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The rebellion inside Kadima gained force Thursday when MKs in the party announced that they would break off if the government decides to raise the value-added tax.
Until now, it was thought that the split would only take place if the government fails to come up with an alternative to the “Tal Law” that would equalize the burden of IDF service and Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz decides to stay in the coalition.
Now the rebels are saying that they have other excuses that would enable them to take at least the minimum seven MKs needed to split a faction. They said that raising the VAT from its current 16 percent to 17% was reason enough to leave.
“Why should I stay part of a coalition that would hurt so many people that way?” one rebel MK said.
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz denied reports that he had already decided to raise the VAT on July 1. He said that raising taxes was only one of several ways being considered to raise funds for the Treasury.
“If there are MKs who want to leave, they can,” Mofaz said.
“I don’t see them doing that any time soon. We have a terrific team. Kadima is strong, and we are having an impact now, which we didn’t before.”
Rebel Kadima MK Robert Tibayev said he believes that in the end, it will be Mofaz himself who will leave the party along with several of his allies and not the MKs currently considering breaking off.
Labor faction head MK Isaac Herzog decided Thursday to allow Tibayev to submit bills under Labor’s allotment, after Tibayev was punished by his party for voting against the coalition on Wednesday. Each faction in the Knesset is allowed to submit a certain amount of bills, depending on the party’s size.
“We will talk to other opposition factions in order to help every MK that refuses to surrender to the caprices and authority of the destructive coalition,” Herzog said.
Tibayev was punished by Mofaz after repeatedly breaking coalition discipline. The Kadima MK is forbidden from submitting bills via his party for a month, and may not attend Knesset committee discussions.
On Wednesday, Tibayev voted in favor of a bill by MK Amir Peretz (Labor) granting minimum wage to IDF soldiers.
Earlier this month, Tibayev, as well as Kadima MKs Yoel Hasson and Nino Abesadze, voted for a bill proposed by Herzog to criminalize discrimination against women.
“I cannot change my opinions all at once, just because we suddenly joined the coalition.
This was a good bill that fit Kadima’s agenda,” Tibayev said at the time.