'Kadima must join the government today'

Kadima must join the go

MK Otniel Schneller came out strongly in favor of Kadima joining the government on Monday, going so far as to threaten to leave the party if it does not accept Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's offer. In an interview with Army Radio, Schneller opined that Kadima joining the coalition would be the best way to work towards a peace agreement with the Palestinians. "Everyone knows that when [Kadima chair] Tzipi Livni joins the government, the Palestinians won't have any reason not to restart peace negotiations," he said, adding that the Annapolis process, in which the opposition leader was heavily involved, is "the only way to achieve peace in the next year or two." Schneller said that he had supported joining the government when Netanyahu was tasked with assembling it in March this year, as the party would have been in a better position had it "joined the government like I said in the first place." He said there was "no real Center" in the current coalition. "There's [Labor chair Ehud] Barak on one side, [Likud MK] Bennie Begin on the other… there's not a strong enough Center base, which is what will bring peace with the Palestinians in the end," he told Army Radio. "Kadima needs to join the government today," he stressed. The offer reportedly on the table from the coalition would be to have Schneller replace Kadima MK Tzahi Hanegbi as chairman of the powerful Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee (FADC). In the event that the party decides not to accept Netanyahu's offer, Schneller said that he would establish a new faction, called "the True Kadima… to uphold the values upon which Kadima was founded." He estimated that up to 13 current Kadima MKs would join such a faction. "There are great people in Kadima, I like them all, but Kadima is not my priority. The State of Israel is my priority," he added. In stark contrast to Schneller, Kadima MK Ze'ev Boim told Army Radio that he would not leave Kadima, though he, too, was in favor of the party joining Netanyahu's government. Boim also noted that he supported the party joining the government back in March, and that he had turned down an offer to leave Kadima and join the government in recent weeks. "I rejected the offer right off the bat, with both hands… now what does that say about me?" he quipped. "The reality hasn't improved [since March], but rather the threats we face have increased," Boim said Monday morning, voicing support for what he called a "Zionist consensus to deal with national issues." "The prime minister has given us the option to create that reality," he said. Rebecca Anna Stoil contributed to this report