Kadima meeting disrupts support of PM

Weekend meeting of party backbenchers casts doubt on loyalty to embattled Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

amira dotan  (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
amira dotan
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
After two weeks of party discipline kept Kadima opposition to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert down to a dull roar, a weekend meeting of party backbenchers threatened to disrupt the sense of support for the embattled party leader following the revelation of a new investigation against him. Kadima MKs Amira Dotan, Isaac Ben-Israel, Michael Nudelman and Shlomo Mula were all present at the Friday meeting at Ben-Israel's Ramat Hasharon house that was billed as a meeting to "raise ideas" and not to present an overt threat to party leadership. "The goal of the meeting was to raise ideas and to think deeply about the central problems standing these days before the state in general and before the Kadima party specifically. The group did not deal with and will not deal with in the future, questions of political personality or with political organization on a personal basis," group members wrote in an announcement released by Ben-Israel's office. "This is not an organization against the party leadership nor is it a support group for alternative leadership. The members of the group believe that the burning problems today are our diplomatic and social problems and that Kadima must deal with relevant politics, not personal politics." At least half the Kadima members invited to the meeting chose to stay away. Invitees MKs Shai Hermesh and Menahem Ben-Sasson pled prior engagements, and Otniel Schneller cited concerns that the meeting could be interpreted as something beyond a mere "thinking session." In their announcement, the group of four, all of whom are in the latter third of the Kadima list and thus stand to be unemployed should the party find itself taking a nose-dive in elections, reiterated their devotion to party ideals. "The intent of the group at this stage is to define the ideas and central perspectives of a center party and to cause influence inside the party that those policies be carried out," they wrote. The group plans to meet on a weekly basis to discuss policy options.