Rivlin opposes proposed amendment to Mofaz law

Rivlin opposes proposed

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) said in closed conversations on Monday that he categorically opposes any further amendments to the "Mofaz Law," after MK Carmel Shama (Likud) submitted a bill a day earlier that would help Kadima MKs leave their party. Shama's bill would enable six lawmakers to join any single-MK-faction over the course of a year after that MK split, and still allow that group to be recognized as the seven necessary to form a new Knesset faction. The bill would give greater leeway to Kadima MK Eli Aflalo, the most likely to leave the party, by encouraging him to split and then find the necessary six to form a faction. The bill would also allow additional lawmakers to join the newly formed faction throughout the first year after the group split from its parent faction. Nevertheless, four of the Kadima legislators thought most likely to leave the fractured party - MKs Otniel Schneller, Yulia Shamolov Berkovich, Ronit Tirosh and Shai Hermesh - all maintained party unity and voted in favor of a Kadima no-confidence motion on Monday, though the motion was resoundingly defeated, 58-28. Despite the show of party unity, at least one Kadima MK said that the would-be rebels had already begun the parliamentary procedure to secure a divorce from their faction. The veteran MK claimed that "at least six MKs," including reported wavering rebel Arieh Bibi, had already filed a signed request to break away from Kadima with House Committee Chairman Yariv Levin (Likud). But if there are, in fact, fewer than seven lawmakers who request to be separated from Kadima, the MKs will be at a great disadvantage. The Mofaz Law, passed at the tail end of the previous Knesset session, enables a group of seven MKs - even if they constitute less than a third of their faction - to break off and be recognized as an independent faction. Six from a party with more than 18 MKs (Kadima has 28), however, would only be recognized as factionless MKs, and as such would be at the Likud's mercy for committee positions, speaking rights on the Knesset floor, and the ability to advance legislation. MKs from Kadima and the Likud continued on Monday to dicker over a potential Kadima split, with a heated plenum debate taking place. Even as Kadima's Knesset faction hammered out its response to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's offer, MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) took the podium in the plenum to present his party's no-confidence motion, slamming the prime minister's "political machinating." Neither Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni nor Kadima second-in-command MK Shaul Mofaz were present as Hasson hammered away at Netanyahu's attempts to split the party, nor were they there when Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) presented the government's response. "Netanyahu was only interested in completing a political deal," said Hasson, referring to claims that the prime minister engaged in political maneuvering on the day when he was meant to be considering the deal for the release of captive IDF soldier Gilad Schalit. Kadima's no-confidence motion was presented under the title "The prime minister is driven by his push for political survival, at the expense of making decisions critical to the fate of the country." But Erdan was not willing to ignore Hasson's tirade against his party chairman. "Now Livni finally will learn the first names of [Kadima backbench MKs] Robert Tibayev and Yulia Shamolov [Berkovich], and Kadima MKs' phone numbers," he responded, alluding to assertions by backbenchers that they felt ignored by the party's senior echelons. He later went on to suggest that one source of their discontent was that Livni "is not the same kind of leader" as Kadima founder Ariel Sharon was, and expressed hope that "one day, Israeli democracy will reach Kadima."