Parties use Tu Bishvat to plant seeds of political discord

Kara plants at Ghajar, Labor MKs will plant trees in the Negev, Kadima MKs will plant trees in Sderot and Kibbutz Kfar Aza.

A day after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu madea political statement by planting trees in Kfar Etzion and Ma'alehAdumim, other parties announced Monday that they would follow suit withtheir own tree planting ceremonies to mark Tu Bishvat, which falls onSaturday.

Netanyahutold children at his tree planting ceremonies that their grandchildrenand great-grandchildren would enjoy the trees. He also intends to planta tree in Ariel after he returns from Poland later this week.

Deputy Negev and Galilee Development Minister Ayoub Kara made apoint of planting trees on Sunday with National Union MKs Ya'acov Katzand Michael Ben-Ari at the disputed northern border town of Ghajar. TheKnesset's Golan caucus, headed by Likud MK Carmel Shama, will planttrees there on Thursday, while Labor MKs will plant trees in the Negevon Friday to show that party's commitment to the region.

Kadima will use its tree-planting ceremony to emphasize therole of party leader Tzipi Livni in stopping Kassam rocket fire fromthe Gaza Strip. In addition to the faction's annual trip to the Kadimaforest in the southern town of Omer, the MKs will plant trees in Sderotand Kibbutz Kfar Aza in the Sha'ar Hanegev region.

"Planting in the Gaza periphery is intended toemphasize the Kadima government's success in restoring quiet to theSouth a year after Operation Cast Lead," said MK Shai Hermesh, whoinitiated the faction's visit to bomb shelters that have been builtnear his home in Kfar Aza.

While in the South, the Kadima faction will convene in Sderot'scity hall to show solidarity with residents there. The visit to theKadima forest, which the party's MKs started planting in 2006, is meantto demonstrate that the party has continued growing despite manychallenges.

ButShmuel Riffman, a Livni opponent in Kadima, who heads the Ramat HanegevRegional Council near the forest, scoffed at the ceremony, saying that"the problems in Kadima go deep to its roots."

In a sign of further problems in the party, some 40 top Kadimaactivists demonstrated outside the party's Petah Tikva headquartersMonday night. The activists demanded the resignation of Livni's ally,Kadima director-general Moshe Shehori, due to disagreements about howthe party is run.