PM resumes bid to break Kadima

Itzik tells him to stop; Big Likud meeting scheduled for next week.

Daila Itzik 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Daila Itzik 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s political adviser Shalom Shlomo met individually with several Kadima MKs this week, in an effort to persuade them to leave their party, Likud and Kadima sources said on Thursday.
Army Radio revealed on Thursday morning that Netanyahu had met the day before with Kadima faction chairwoman Dalia Itzik and discussed the possibility of Kadima or part of it joining the coalition. But Itzik later said that in the meeting, she told Netanyahu to stop trying to break up her party.
Kadima leader Tzipi Livni expressed hope that the rebellions in her party had ended, but she said she knew the prime minister would continue trying to split Kadima. A source close to Livni said the fact that Netanyahu was personally involved with the effort to divide Kadima showed his frustration with his lack of success.
One factor that could determine whether Netanyahu will succeed in persuading Kadima MKs to shift to the Likud is next Thursday’s Likud central committee vote on whether to postpone an election for the party’s central committee.
Netanyahu wants the central committee election delayed from April 2010 to September 2012. If he succeeds, people who join the party in its current membership drive will be able to elect the central committee members.
But if he fails, the new members will not have been in the party long enough to be eligible to vote, and the central committee will be elected by the party’s current members, who are considered too hawkish for Netanyahu’s liking.
It would be a key selling point for Kadima lawmakers if they could bring their supporters onto the party rolls and into the central committee, especially MK Shaul Mofaz, who registered thousands of union members in Kadima’s membership drive.
Because the postponement would require changing the Likud’s constitution, Netanyahu would need the support of two-thirds of the central committee members to win the vote. In an effort to show central committee members that the Likud faction is behind him, he tried to get as many MKs as possible to sign a letter to central committee members urging them to support delaying the election.
Initially, the vote was expected to take place at the Tel AvivFairgrounds. But to maximize the number of ballots cast, the Likud hasexpanded the number of sites where central committee members can voteto nine and then to 22 nationwide, at significant cost to the party.
Netanyahu also has until Tuesday to decide on a March date for anotherLikud central committee meeting that will discuss the 10-monthhousing-start moratorium in Judea and Samaria that began in lateNovember. The prime minister had tried to delay the meeting on theissue, but he is being forced to convene the committee because of apetition to a Likud court by hawkish Likud MK Danny Danon.