Gaydamak expects defectors by next week

Russian mogul's Social Justice party to begin absorbing MKs leaving their current factions, senior party officials predict.

Arkadi Gaydamak 88 (photo credit: )
Arkadi Gaydamak 88
(photo credit: )
Knesset members will start the process of leaving their current factions to join Russian billionaire Arkadi Gaydamak's new Social Justice Party already by next week, senior officials in the party predicted Monday. Last Thursday was the first day it was legal for MKs to split off from their factions while taking with them crucial party funding, because it marked the two-year anniversary of the swearing in of the Knesset. While no MKs left their factions at the first possible moment, Social Justice officials said political upheavals would begin soon after Pessah. "You will see some MKs make some interesting announcements on April 28 or 29," Social Justice legal adviser David Norodetzky said. "After the holiday, there will be more to update, but I can tell you that it really is happening." Norodetzky met on Monday with MKs he was trying to draft for his party from three Knesset factions, which are believed to be the Pensioners Party, Israel Beiteinu and Labor. He said the MKs were "past the point of needing persuasion" and already at the point of working out how to unite their agendas to work together in a new framework. Asked how many MKs would join Social Justice, Norodetzky said he would prefer to start with four or five, because it would be too hard to unite 15 MKs from various factions and keep them satisfied. Pensioners MK Moshe Sharoni, who is considered the most likely to join Social Justice, said he was waiting for a meeting of the Pensioners faction after Pessah to decide his future steps. "I still don't know how things will develop," Sharoni said. "I am in no hurry. April 17 [ last Thursday] was not a holy day. It was just the first day of many in which factions could break off, and there will be many ahead." Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is expected to make new cabinet appointments after Pessah in an effort to strengthen his coalition. Olmert's associates said he was interested in making Sharoni a deputy minister to keep him in the coalition, but Sharoni said he was "not up for sale." "I don't care about being a minister or a shminister," Sharoni said. "I just care about helping the pensioners."