Sharoni forms breakaway faction

MK forms "Justice for Pensioners" party;

moshe sharoni 224 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
moshe sharoni 224 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Disgruntled Pensioners Party MK Moshe Sharoni had said on Thursdasy that the Knesset would have a new faction Monday called the "Justice for Pensioners" faction. The faction will be affiliated with billionaire Arkadi Gaydamak's Social Justice Party, and it will be used as a base for Gaydamak to attract more MKs from other parties. Sharoni sent an angry letter on Wednesday to Pensioners Party head Rafi Eitan and faction chairman Yitzhak Galanti demanding that the faction leave the coalition if Prime Minister Ehud Olmert does not agree to support his bills that would significantly raise pensions for retirees. The Pensioners faction is expected to meet Monday to turn down Sharoni, thereby allowing him to leave. "We can't be in the coalition if Olmert doesn't give us what we want, and if we don't leave the coalition, I am breaking off," Sharoni said. In order to break off from the seven-member Pensioners faction, Sharoni would have to take two MKs with him, because no less than a third of a faction can legally split. MK Sarah Marom-Shalev has agreed to go with Sharoni, but MK Elhanan Glazer has resisted until now. Coalition chairman Eli Aflalo attempted to woo Glazer in recent weeks to keep him in the coalition. Glazer even came to a Kadima event and swore his loyalty to the coalition, but he sounded different Thursday. "I am not ruling anything out," Glazer said. "I am trying to advance important legislation, but so far it has not worked. It is possible that this [new faction] would work better for the pensioners." One option being considered among Olmert loyalists is to appoint Glazer deputy minister in order to prevent Sharoni from splitting the Pensioners faction. Social Justice legal adviser David Norodetzky said it was possible that another Pensioners MK instead of Glazer would join the new faction. Also next week, Olmert is expected to fill the vacancies left in the Tourism Ministry and the Knesset Finance Committee left by the departure of Israel Beiteinu from the coalition. According to one possible scenario considered by Olmert and his associates, Labor's Avishay Braverman will chair the Finance Committee, Kadima's Eli Aflalo will become minister of Negev and Galilee Development and Minister-without-Portfolio Ruhama Avraham (Kadima) will be promoted to tourism minister. Olmert said at a recent event with 100 Kadima activists at his Jerusalem residence that Aflalo would soon be a minister. Meanwhile, a Likud internal court decided to delay its race for chair of the Likud central committee from April 29 to May 13 at the request of candidate Gila Gamliel, who will face off against MK Moshe Kahlon for the post. The party decided that instead of holding the voting only at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds, polls would also be opened in Jerusalem, Beersheba and Kahlon's home town of Haifa.