Mofaz’s first decisions will highlight internal schisms

First meeting of Kadima under Mofaz's leadership not attended by Livni; MKs begin jockeying for chairmanship of Knesset Economics C'tee.

Mofaz speaks at Knesset 370 (photo credit: Knesset Spokesman)
Mofaz speaks at Knesset 370
(photo credit: Knesset Spokesman)
New Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz intended to illustrate party unity when he convened the Kadima faction at the Knesset on Monday for the first time since he won last Tuesday’s leadership primary.
But the meeting revealed internal divides that are expected to be exacerbated by the first decisions he makes as head of the party following the Passover holiday. Former Kadima leader Tzipi Livni did not attend the meeting and Mofaz did not mention her in his speech to the MKs, but several mentioned her and called on her to stay in the party.
“I am on vacation, sweetheart,” Livni told a reporter camped outside her Tel Aviv home.
MK Shlomo Molla complained about the hatred displayed for Livni by MKs who had backed Mofaz. He accused his colleagues in the faction of conspiring with the Likud against her.
“Tzipi’s contribution to the party cannot be underestimated,” Molla said. “I hope she will stay with us. If not, it would be a big loss.”
MK Marina Solodkin reminded Mofaz that “Livni won the party 28 seats.”
She said he should not forget the party’s diplomatic and civil agenda.
Other MKs took turns praising Mofaz and wishing him well. Mofaz received his nicest compliments from the three MKs competing over the chairmanship of the influential Knesset Economics committee, which Mofaz told the faction he would formally request from Likud.
MKs Meir Sheetrit, Ruhama Avraham- Balila and Ronit Tirosh have all told Mofaz in private conversations that they are seeking the post. Those he does not choose could hold it against him and make his job more difficult.
“My guess is that he will give me the committee,” Sheetrit said, noting that he had led the fight in Kadima against trading it for the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee for the first two-thirds of the Knesset’s term. “It was a big mistake to give up the Economics Committee.”
But Avraham and Tirosh said they should be given the committee due to their years of support for Mofaz. Tirosh sat next to Mofaz in the faction meeting at his request.
Mofaz’s associates said they did not know when he would decide who would head the committee. But they said he was in no hurry and that he was still relishing his victory.
“There were those who eulogized us and said we would come apart, but we are not going anywhere,” Mofaz told the MKs. “There will be no negotiations to join the government. I am keen on replacing Netanyahu and I don’t intend to enter his government, period. We will be a fighting opposition.”