Kadima shrugs off losing Braverman

Officials in Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's new Kadima party claimed on Thursday that they were not disappointed that Ben-Gurion University of the Negev president Avishay Braverman decided to run for the Knesset with Labor. Since Sharon announced that he was forming a new party on Sunday, the press had been reporting that Braverman was among the top people Sharon would seek to draft into the party. But Sharon's associates said they never even got around to giving him a call. "We will bring plenty of big names to Kadima but only in a couple of weeks," a source close to Sharon said. "We never thought that Braverman's opinions fit with ours, so we didn't appeal to him. Kadima has done well in its first week and we won't be harmed by not bringing one man or another." Labor Party Chairman Amir Peretz tried to take the momentum away from Kadima by bringing a long list of Israeli musicians and pop stars into the party. Thursday was the last day for new members to join Labor, but Kadima is just getting started. Sharon convened the 16 MKs who have joined the Kadima faction on Thursday at the Prime Minister's Office in Tel Aviv and instructed them not to pay attention to the internal conflicts between the candidates to succeed him at the helm of the Likud. "Don't touch the Likud and don't occupy yourselves with their infighting," Sharon told the faction. "Leave the people we left with their internal conflicts. This is the reason why we left." Sharon's advisers revealed the faction's new logo and slogans that will be hung nationwide, including "Israel wants to go forward [Kadima in Hebrew]" and "Sharon is a strong leader." Kadima representatives presented the party's charter to party registrar Yaron Keidar on Thursday. The charter said that Sharon would select the party's MKs for the next Knesset, but from the following Knesset onward, all citizens would be allowed to vote for the Kadima list in an open primary. "This is a historic day that will have a great impact on the future of Israeli politics," Sharon adviser Yoram Raved said when he delivered the charter. "This party is here to stay. People wouldn't have joined the party if it wasn't here for the long haul." The registrar received two appeals against the name Kadima on Thursday - one from officials in a town called Kadima in the Sharon region and another from a Beersheba deputy mayor whose party is called Kadima. A Shas spokesman mocked the name Kadima, saying that the party would push Israel "forward to expelling Jews from their homes, forward to harming Jewish values, and forward to harming the poor." Meretz revealed a new sticker saying that Kadima was "One step forward, two steps back."