Marina Solodkin: The littlest rebel

Moments after she walked off the Knesset floor ahead of the vote on approving Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's new government, Kadima MK Marina Solodkin was still trembling at what she had done, as the TV cameras converged on her short figure. The first, and so far the only "rebel" in the new Knesset, she had just absented herself from the first crucial vote for the government formed by her party. Despite being No. 6 on the Kadima list and the party's senior representative from the Russian-speaking community, she didn't receive any appointment, not in the cabinet and not as chairman of a Knesset committee, and she was boycotting the vote to protest what she termed "the insult to an entire community." Solodkin denied reports that she had tried to influence her fellow Russian MKs in Kadima - Michael Nudelman and Zeev Elkin - to join her protest, but she sighed and said, "I realize that not everyone has balls." Solodkin said that she had "been talked to" but that no untoward pressure had been put on her to vote in favor of the government. "They know they can't pressure me. I've withstood sanctions before when I voted against Netanyahu's budget in 1998 after it cancelled tax exemptions for working mothers. They didn't let me make speeches in the Knesset or introduce my own bills, but I didn't give in. I also opposed the law that made it illegal to import pork. They know me, when it comes to the rights of the immigrant community, I won't budge." However her brave rebellion might be short-lived. Solodkin is now promising to be a loyal MK even though she says she will continue to vote on bills "according to their merits."