By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN, JPOST.COM STAFF
"[Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu is trying to break up Kadima and it's a fact," party chairwoman Tzipi Livni told her Number 2, MK Shaul Mofaz, in a charged meeting early Thursday afternoon amid the storm in the party's ranks.
"You, me and all the party's leaders must stand up to this effort and not, even if it's not intentional, help him weaken Kadima."
"I can talk to you about everything," Livni said to Mofaz, "but now there is one mission: keeping Kadima unified and it's incumbent upon everyone to whom Kadima is important."
Mofaz, however, did not seem to be convinced by Livni's appeal and urged the Kadima leader to call primaries.
"Kadima is falling apart," he told reporters after the meeting. "I recommended to [Livni] how to maintain unity in Kadima. I very much hope that for the first time she listens to others. I hope this way we can get to have leadership that knows how to make the right decisions and lead Kadima to where it has to be."
When asked if by that he meant primaries, Mofaz answered, "Yes."
The meeting followed the commitment by six MKs to leave Kadima, which was confirmed on Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, one of the six party rebels, MK Eli Aflalo, said that he had lost faith in Livni's leadership, even though he still thinks that she is "an honest person."
Speaking to Israel Radio on Thursday morning, Aflalo said he just "cannot accept the fact that MK Livni is leading the Kadima party to the Left when it is supposed to be a centrist party."
He repeated his request for Livni to let him set up a one-man faction.
"I'm not even thinking about joining up with anyone, there are no negotiations," he said. "After I've formed a new faction I'll decide. Maybe there will be a new leadership in Kadima."
Aflalo said he had nothing personal against Livni, just against her leadership.
"Kadima MKs think she is a mandate machine, but I don't want a mandate machine, I want a leader I know I can trust like I trusted [former prime minister] Ariel Sharon," said Aflalo. "[Livni's predecessor] Ehud Olmert was no less of a good prime minister [than Sharon], in fact one of the best ever, but at the slightest opportunity to give him a political lynching, she did that without any regard for the faction."
Sources close to Netanyahu confirmed on Wednesday night that at least six Kadima MKs had signed a document with the prime minister's adviser Yitzhak Molho last week committing themselves to leave the party.
Netanyahu and his associates have negotiated with 15 Kadima MKs about leaving Kadima over the past three months and they hope to persuade 10, but just seven are needed in order to legally split off from the party.
Aflalo already told Livni on Tuesday that he intended to leave the party on his own, because he was angry at her for not helping him get re-elected to the Knesset after he was instrumental in helping her win the Kadima leadership against Mofaz.
"You betrayed me and I don't believe in you anymore," Aflalo told Livni, in the heated conversation.
Earlier Thursday morning, Kadima MK Yohanan Plessner blasted Netanyahu for his apparent attempt to break up the party.
Plessner told Israel Radio that "the stinking move of the 1990s" was nothing compared to the actions of the prime minister today.
"Netanyahu is trying to empty the Knesset and buy politicians for tens of thousands of shekels at the public's expense," he said.
Plessner said the prime minister was "severely damaging public faith and the political establishment," and called on public servants and Likud lawmakers to "say enough" of these deals.
Meanwhile, Likud MK Yariv Levin said it was "not a difficult task" to break up Kadima, adding that dividing a party born out of "a sinful split from Likud" is "legitimate and historic justice."
He said the aim of the move was not revenge, but rather to expand the support base for the government and boost the stability of the political establishment.
Levin claimed that many of those who split from the Likud when Kadima was formed in 2005 did so because they were not chosen for "realistic spots" on the party list.
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