MK warns if party mimics Shinui, it too will disappear.
By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
The sole religious legislator left in Kadima, MK Otniel Schneller, criticized party leader Tzipi Livni on Sunday for her recent attacks on haredim, warning her that imitating the secularist Shinui party would destroy Kadima.When former prime ministers Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert built Kadima’s first Knesset list ahead of the 2006 election, they purposely included religious MKs Menahem Ben-Sasson, Ze’ev Elkin, David Tal and Schneller. But Schneller is the only one left in the Kadima faction, and he frequently criticizes Livni.Livni continued her recent criticism of religious parties in radio and television interviews she gave on Sunday. She questioned Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s ability to advance the diplomatic process and advance civil values that Likud and Kadima share, due to the coalition he built with Shas and United Torah Judaism.She went further in a weekend interview with Haaretz in which she blasted the haredim for avoiding army service, not joining the work force, and not teaching the core curriculum in their schools.“Israel 2010 is a country in which women ride in the back of the bus, dry bones take precedence over saving lives, conversion is a mission impossible, the Zionist vision has blurred and defining the Jewish state has been given to a monopoly of ultra-Orthodox politicians who are taking advantage of the system and politicians,” she told the newspaper.Schneller said that he agreed with Livni in principle that more haredim should serve in the IDF, get jobs, and study the core curriculum. But he said Livni neglected to mention that increasing numbers of haredim were doing all three.“Instead of coming to reach out to the haredim, we are losing our integrity by criticizing them for short-term ratings,” Schneller said.“I think Kadima will lose long-term if we go in this direction. Shinui is not around today for a reason, and if Kadima wants to follow in the direction of Shinui, there will be no Kadima.Schneller said that at Monday’s Kadima faction meeting, he would accuse Livni of harming the nascent diplomatic process with the Palestinians by criticizing religious parties whose votes could be used to approve a peace plan.“It’s wrong to stigmatize a sector of the population,” he said. “To change people, you have to embrace them, not push them away. Who does Kadima want to form a coalition with next time, other than Meretz and maybe Yair Lapid [the former Shinui leader’s son who has not decided whether to enter politics]?”Livni’s associates responded that she makes a point of differentiatingbetween the religious parties and the haredi public. They said she wasproud to be the guest of honor last week at the capital’s HarediCollege for Women, which is headed by Adina Bar-Shalom, the daughter ofShas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.In the interviews, Livni praised the beginning of proximity talks withthe Palestinians and expressed hope that they will succeed. She pledgedKadima’s support for Netanyahu in votes advancing the diplomaticprocess, but criticized Netanyahu for taking so long to get to thenegotiating table.The Likud responded by blasting Livni for leading a diplomatic processwhen she was foreign minister that did not accomplish anything and forending the Second Lebanon War with Security Council Resolution 1701that allowed Hizbullah to build a huge arsenal of missiles on thenorthern border.
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