By REBECCA ANNA STOIL
After a week of increasingly strained relations between Kadima and Likud, both parties Tuesday stepped down their rhetoric, but the after effects of the power struggle were felt when MK Eli Aflalo officially submitted his request to leave Kadima.
Aflalo filed his letter to Kadima Chairwoman and Opposition leader Tzipi Livni Tuesday afternoon after a week of rumors that he was planning to do so. Aflalo is currently the only Kadima MK to have made good on his threat to leave the party, and will now serve as an independent MK. As such, he is at the coalition's mercy in terms of his ability to perform basic duties of an MK, including submitting bills and speaking in the plenum.
But other than Aflalo's announcement, Tuesday was a much quieter day in the Knesset than Monday, when Kadima took its vote to remain in the opposition. A predicted showdown over procedural questions of principle in the House Committee sputtered out in the early afternoon, after Kadima suddenly rescinded its anticipated opposition to Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin's plans to allow youth to address the Knesset plenum.
Rivlin's proposal - to declare a special Knesset session in honor of the parliament's 60th birthday and to invite youth to address the plenum - was initially opposed by some Kadima leaders. Likud MKs planned for a fight against possible opposition to the plan and the insistence by Kadima that they be allowed to deliver the regularly-scheduled no-confidence motions on the celebratory occasion.
According to Rivlin's plan, the bypass that would allow the youthful speakers to address the assembly would require a House Committee decision to suspend all regular plenum functions on the day of the event - February 1.
Kadima officials promised a fight, but reporters arriving in the committee for the latest installation of Likud-Kadima dickering were surprised to discover that Kadima had rescinded all of its major points of opposition to the proposal. Instead of another procedural showdown, Rivlin's proposal passed uneventfully with unanimous support.
Likud officials also said Tuesday that they were not planning on creating any furor related to any reassigning of faction rooms as a a result of redistribution of faction members. As the largest faction before Aflalo's resignation, Kadima was entitled to the largest faction room, usually reserved for the coalition-forming party. With one fewer MK, Likud was relegated to a smaller room, but instead holds faction meetings in a larger - and more photogenic - Knesset room.
Now, with Likud and Kadima at a level of parity, Likud could have made a push for the larger room. Instead, Likud officials said that because all of the faction rooms are temporary - while new faction rooms are being built on the first floor - they would not put up a fight for the largest of the temporary rooms.
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