Olmert endorses Kadima, still may run in election

Former PM agrees to serve on Kadima committee that will decide list for election; associate says "all options on the table."

EHUD OLMERT 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The Center-Left of the political camp became even more complicated on Wednesday when former prime minister Ehud Olmert endorsed Kadima and agreed to serve on the committee that will decide its list for the January 22 election.
Olmert’s associates said his participation in the committee would have no impact on his decision about whether to run, which would only be made when he returns from his visit to the United States next Tuesday. Lists of candidates must be submitted to the central elections committee by next Thursday.
“As long as he has not chosen one of his options, all options continue to be on the table in one way or another,” an Olmert associate said. The former prime minister made a point of endorsing Kadima the day after former Kadima leader Tzipi Livni returned to politics at the helm of a new party, the Tzipi Livni Party. The endorsement was seen as a sign that there is still life to the party that both Olmert and Livni once headed.
“I am sorry she divided the Center rather than uniting it,” Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz said. “I offered her any job, including number 2 in Kadima and a key role together leading Kadima and she was unwilling to take it. She should have accepted the results of the leadership race and she should be helping us.”
Livni received bad news on Wednesday when a Dialog poll published in Haaretz found that her new party would receive only seven seats if elections were held now. A day after she declared herself the only possible alternative to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, only 21 percent of respondents said she was fit to be prime minister compared to 66% for Netanyahu.
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Only six MKs in Kadima have left for the Tzipi Livni Party.
Despite her efforts to draft MKs Yohanan Plesner and Doron Avital, they instead went to Kadima’s faction meeting Wednesday night and declared their allegiance to the party.
If Livni drafts a seventh Kadima MK, her new party will receive NIS 9 million in party funding from Kadima. If six MKs join, they will not be able to bring any funding with them.
Likud minister Dan Meridor, who failed to win a realistic slot on the party’s next Knesset list, denied reports that he was seeking a slot on Livni’s list.
Meridor will be spending the next few days with Livni at the Saban Forum in Washington.
The only new candidate whom Livni’s spokeswoman could confirm had joined the party on Wednesday was former IDF Women’s Corps head Israela Oron, who is a former deputy head of the National Security Council.
Former Labor leader Amram Mitzna would not confirm reports that he had been offered the second or third slot on Livni’s list and that he had demanded that anti-haredi activist Boaz Nol be left off the list.
Labor MK Isaac Herzog said that when Mitzna ran for Labor leader, he signed a letter committing himself to respect the results of the race.
“I advise Mitzna to reconsider his decision, which would harm the Labor-led Center-Left in the election,” Herzog said.