Sheetrit says he won't run for Kadima leadership

Kadima field narrows but may widen as Bat Yam Mayor Shlomo Lahiani considers candidacy.

Meir Sheetrit (photo credit: Miiam Alster)
Meir Sheetrit
(photo credit: Miiam Alster)
MK Meir Sheetrit decided against challenging MKs Tzipi Livni, Shaul Mofaz and Avi Dichter in the March 27 Kadima leadership race, the veteran politician announced in a press conference at the Knesset on Wednesday morning.
Sheetrit said his main reason for staying out of the race was that he realized he could not win. He said he could have forced a run-off race between Livni and Mofaz but it would only delay making repairs to the party that were urgently needed.
“My chances are not great so there is no reason for me to enter the race,” Sheetrit said. “Seventy to 80 percent of voters have a positive opinion about me, but I haven’t been able to turn my experience into votes. I think the reason is because to get elected in Israel, you don’t need a good record or high quality. It’s about image. I don’t lie, and I won’t lie to get elected.”
Sheetrit said he valued the candidates in the race but had not yet decided whom to support. He would meet with Livni on Wednesday afternoon and Mofaz and Dichter over the weekend and announce his endorsement at the beginning of next week, he said.
Sources close to Mofaz said Sheetrit had actually already decided to back him and he would have announced it at the press conference but he had forgotten to tell Livni, so he quickly requested a meeting with her and said at the press conference that he would make the endorsement next week.
The 28-member Kadima faction is split in two. Thirteen MKs have endorsed Livni, 12 support Mofaz, Dichter backs himself, Sheetrit is undecided and faction head Dalia Itzik is leaning toward remaining neutral.
If Sheetrit endorses Mofaz, it would give him an advantage over Livni in the faction for the first time. Sheetrit has been a frequent critic of Livni and in the past explored the possibility of leaving Kadima with six other MKs.
But at the press conference, Sheetrit denied considering returning to the Likud. A former mayor of Yavne, Sheetrit first entered the Knesset in 1981 and has held six ministerial portfolios.