Likud agrees to demand to block members from voting in Kadima race

Ruling party had accused opposition of conspiring with Mofaz against Livni.

netanyahu likud 248.88 (photo credit: Channel 10)
netanyahu likud 248.88
(photo credit: Channel 10)
The Likud accepted repeated requests from Kadima on Wednesday to prevent Likud members from voting in the September 17 Kadima primary. Over the last two weeks, Kadima leadership candidates and party officials had asked Central Elections Committee chairman Eliezer Rivlin and State Comptroller Micha Lindenstraus to compel the Likud to hand over its membership rolls to determine whether there were people who were members of both parties. The Likud refused to hand over its database to Kadima but Likud legal adviser Avi Halevi said he would give the list to a third party like the Party Registrar's office. That office declined to accept that role, so the Likud turned instead to Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz, who will decide who should examine the membership rolls of the two parties. Kadima MKs loyal to Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni had accused the Likud of trying to interfere in the race on behalf of her main rival for the Kadima leadership, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz. A Likud MK responded that he would actually prefer if Livni won the race, because she was expected to initiate an immediate election, while Mofaz would make a serious effort to form a new government with the existing Knesset. The head of the Kadima elections committee, Judge Dan Arbel, wrote a letter on Wednesday to Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu, asking him to take action to ensure that there would not be anyone who was a member of both parties. In the letter, Arbel noted that Labor had already done so. The check of the Labor membership list found that 584 people were members of both Labor and Kadima. The overlap with Likud is expected to be much longer, because Kadima broke off from Likud and many vote contractors are active in both parties. It was a criminal offense to be a member of two parties, Arbel noted in his letter. When people join a party, they must sign a document pledging that they are not members of another party. Lying on such a document is punishable with up to a year in prison. The reasons the Likud has given in the past for not cooperating with Kadima included protecting the privacy of the party's members and taking revenge against Kadima for taking votes and money away from the Likud. Likud MKs Yisrael Katz and Yuval Steinitz recently came out in favor of accepting Kadima's request to search the Likud's membership rolls. They said they would give people who were members of both parties a week to decide in which party they would prefer to remain. "People who would join another party don't belong in the Likud," Katz said. "We don't want them. We cleaned up the Likud, and we don't want to be associated with people who would break the law." Meanwhile, in Kadima, a revote began on a proposal to hold the party's leadership race after the primary was suspended due to irregularities in the voting cited in a petition by a Kadima council member loyal to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. While in the first vote that ended on July 21, Kadima council members were required to come to the party's Petah Tikva headquarters to cast their ballots, this time, the party is sending messengers directly to council members. Many Kadima MKs voted at the Knesset on Wednesday.