Livni to go on defensive over primary in faction meeting

“I expect Ms. Livni not to miss this train like she missed all the others,” Mofaz says.

Tzippi Livni 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Tzippi Livni 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Yet another confrontation between Kadima leader Tzipi Livni and her party rivals is expected when the Kadima faction meets Monday.
It will be the first time they meet since Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced the Likud would hold a leadership primary on January 31.
Netanyahu caught Livni by surprise by advancing his primary a few days after she rejected calls to advance hers. Since then, more Kadima MKs have come out in favor of moving up the leadership race in their party while others have told Livni that Kadima cannot be seen as being dragged into a race by Netanyahu.
While Livni has told Kadima MKs in private conversations she would be willing to hold the race as early as May, this is not expected to satisfy her party rival, Shaul Mofaz, who wants the race held as soon as possible.
The two rivals will convene this week in what is expected to be a highly charged meeting.
“I expect Ms. Livni not to miss this train like she missed all the others,” Mofaz said. “She didn’t form a government like she could have after [former prime minister Ehud] Olmert resigned, she didn’t form a coalition after the election, she didn’t build an identity for the party during three years in the opposition, and she missed the socioeconomic protests.”
Mofaz, who refrained in recent months from attacking Livni, said he intends to demand that every candidate in the leadership race vow to stay in the party no matter who wins. Such a demand is expected to be sensitive for Livni, who said in an interview last month that she couldn’t wait to end her political career.
Livni may have an easier time Monday, because one of her fiercest critics, MK Avi Dichter, will be abroad as part of a delegation to NATO headquarters in Brussels.
But MK Otniel Schneller said he intends to pick up the slack.
Schneller said recent reports about alleged corruption in the party resembled the work of the Mafia and made him ashamed to be a member of Kadima.
“I want to express my deep regret that my party has fallen to a nadir in its ethics and values,” he said.