Last Kadima endorsement due Monday

Hermesh's power cannot be underestimated, as he controls the party's kibbutz and moshav sector.

shai hermesh 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
shai hermesh 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The four Kadima leadership candidates will conclude their quest for key endorsements from cabinet ministers and MKs in their faction on Monday afternoon when MK Shai Hermesh announces whom he would support. Hermesh may not be the biggest name in Kadima, but his power cannot be underestimated, because he controls the party's kibbutz and moshav sector. Hermesh registered 5,342 Kadima members from the sector, according to official party numbers. Both of the front-running candidates, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, have tried hard to recruit Hermesh. Mofaz even made a point of mentioning his name before that of Vice Premier Haim Ramon among the MKs whose support he still hoped to attract in a speech at a rally on Thursday. Ramon is not expected to make an endorsement and neither is Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik, leaving Hermesh as the only ex-Labor Party member to choose a candidate, so his decision could impact many Kadima members who joined the party from Labor. Hermesh said one of the main issues affecting his choice would be whether the candidate was willing to guarantee that the Agriculture portfolio would return to Kadima. Mofaz has been willing to make such a promise while Livni has not. Mofaz is expected to quietly receive the support of Histadrut Labor Federation chief Ofer Eini, who has sway over thousands of union members in Kadima. Livni reportedly met with Eini in an effort to change his mind on Sunday. The four leadership candidates sent representatives to Kadima's Petah Tikva headquarters on Sunday to officially declare their candidacies. Each candidate submitted NIS 10,000 and at least 300 signatures of supporters to Kadima director-general Adi Sternberg and election committee chairman Dan Arbel, who officially approved their candidacies. A Kadima internal court rejected a petition on Sunday to cancel the primary due to irregularities in the way the decision to hold the vote was approved.