Kadima discord renews Likud's hopes to split rival

Kadima nearly came apart last month after Netanyahu and his close ally Yisrael Katz succeeded in drafting six of the seven MKs needed to legally split the party.

kadima campaign banner 248 88  (photo credit: Courtesy)
kadima campaign banner 248 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)

Tension in Kadima over when the party's nextleadership race should be held will lead to a split in the party,senior Likud officials predicted on Saturday night.

Kadimanearly came apart last month after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahuand his close ally, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, succeeded indrafting six of the seven MKs needed to legally split the party.

Katz has maintained contact with multiple Kadima MKs aboutjoining the six and enabling the split. He said over the weekend thatthe dispute over the date for the Kadima leadership race could be anexcuse for another MK to cross the Rubicon.

"We opened the crack in Kadima and little by little, they are coming apart," Katz told a confidant.

"Their fight over the primary makes it increasingly likely to happen and justifies my approach from the get-go."

Sources close to Katz expressed hope that Kadima leader TzipiLivni's arch rival, MK Shaul Mofaz, would decide to return to Likud dueto Livni's reluctance to initiate a rematch for the party leadership.

They said they were still hoping for a big name in Kadima to lead the split and they would not settle for a minor party MK.

Mofaz pushed for a June 2010 primary in Thursday's meeting ofthe Kadima House Committee, while Livni's ally, Kadima council chairmanHaim Ramon, said he would not agree to advance the race beyond a yearbefore the next general election, which is currently set for November2013.

The committee's chairman, MK Tzahi Hanegbi, stopped the meetingwhile MKs were expressing their opinions because he found out that atranscript of the session was being published online as they spoke.

Although Kadima initially released a statement saying thedebate would resume on a later date, Hanegbi decided over the weekendthat there was no need to continue.

It is now up to Mofaz to decide whether to bring his proposalto advance the primary to a vote in the Kadima faction. His associatessaid he would make a decision in the upcoming days.

Livni is expected to do everything possible to delay a decisionon whether the primary will be advanced, knowing that her alliescontrol the NIS 1.7 million in party funding that Kadima receives fromthe state every month and that she can use to strengthen her hold overthe party.

Sources close to Livni refuted a story published over the weekend in the Israel Hayomnewspaper that she was courting former IDF chief of General Staff DanHalutz to join Kadima. The newspaper reported that Halutz had metrecently with Livni, who could use a top security figure if Mofazleaves Kadima.