Pensioner Party rebel foils Gaydamak's political hopes

'Every man in a relationship says he's not leaving until he does.'

arkady gaydamak 88 (photo credit: )
arkady gaydamak 88
(photo credit: )
Billionaire Arkadi Gaydamak will apparently have to wait until after the next general election to receive the appointment he desires as minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs after a fight between rebellious Pensioners' MKs ended chances of him becoming a minister immediately. Disgruntled former Pensioners' faction chairman Moshe Sharoni had been telling people for weeks that he and MKs Elhanan Glazer and Sarah Marom-Shalev would break off from the faction after April 17. That date marks the two-year anniversary of the swearing-in of the Knesset and the earliest date a third of a faction could legally break off and receive party funding. Sharoni has held talks with Labor, Kadima, Likud and even Uzi Dayan's Tafnit Party about joining. But the party that has made the most noise about making a deal with the Pensioner rebels has been Gaydamak's Social Justice Party. Ha'aretz reported Tuesday that "barring a last-minute change, Social Justice officials are expected to team up with three members of the Pensioners Party to form the Social Justice faction in the Knesset. According to the agreement, Social Justice will become a Knesset-represented party on April 18." The report speculated that Gaydamak would serve as a minister on behalf of the new Social Justice faction, taking the job he has long coveted of minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs. But Sharoni, Marom-Shalev and Glazer all took pains to refute the story. Sharoni said that no deal was pending with Gaydamak's party and that if a deal were reached, he would be the minister - not Gaydamak. "We still have plenty of time and plenty of options of what party to join," Sharoni said. "None of the options are preferable over the others. And we aren't selling our ministry. If we get a ministry, it's mine." Marom-Shalev sounded perplexed by the story. She said she did not understand why Gaydamak thought he could represent her in the cabinet or why reporters thought she would make a deal with him. "We are not looking for party funding, so we don't need Gaydamak," Marom-Shalev said. "Why would we let him be a minister? For what? We don't need the money." Glazer, for his part, denied even considering leaving the Pensioners' faction. He slammed Sharoni for speaking in his name. "Sharoni talks for himself, as usual, and I'm speaking for myself," Glazer said. "I'm not very satisfied with our party's achievements, but I see no reason to leave until just ahead of the next election. The best option is to stay and to try to fix things and help pensioners from within." Asked about Glazer's rebelling from his rebellion, Sharoni responded: "Let him stay. I won't take anyone by force. If he knows he won't be elected with the Pensioners' Party, he should think about what's good for him and come with me." Social Justice legal adviser David Norodetzky confirmed the Ha'aretz story. He said that not only would the three Pensioners' rebels join Social Justice but MKs from Israel Beiteinu, Kadima and Labor as well, despite all their denials. "Every man in a relationship says he's not leaving until he does," Norodetzky said. "There are negotiations. They have their requests that we are considering and we have ours that they are considering, and one of them is Gaydamak serving in the cabinet. The negotiations only end when the fat lady sings."