'Thousands in Kadima are also of Likud'

Channel 2 reports that nearly 3,500 people belong to both parties - a criminal offense in Israel.

netanyahu 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
netanyahu 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Kadima pleaded with Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday to submit his party's membership rolls in order to prevent Likud members from voting in the September 17 Kadima primary. Channel 2 reporter Amit Segal revealed Monday night that the number of people who have joined Kadima while remaining members of the Likud is 3,478, a number much higher than the 584 Kadima members who are also in Labor. It is a criminal offense in Israel to be a member of two parties. When people join a party, they must sign a document pledging that they are not members of another party. Lying on such a document is punishable with a sentence of up to a year in prison. Kadima officials said they had already asked the Likud for their membership rolls six times. "This is further proof of the vile and irresponsible behavior of the Likud and Netanyahu, who has avoided us for more than a month. The Likud's refusal to cooperate raises the question of what and whom Netanyahu is afraid of, and what he is trying to hide." The Likud said in response that they were waiting for an answer from Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz, following their query about what governmental agency or office should examine the membership rolls of the two parties in order to protect the secrecy of the members. Sources close to Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said the report was very problematic and called for Likudniks to be removed from Kadima's rolls. Livni loyalists in the Kadima faction accused the Likud of trying to interfere in the race on behalf of her main rival for the Kadima leadership, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz. The Mofaz campaign responded that they have and would act in accordance with the law and added the report was proof that there was a desire for a strong leader like Mofaz. Campaign officials said it was only natural for former Likudniks to support Mofaz due to his ideology. Meanwhile, Livni and Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit were seen eating lunch together in Jerusalem on Monday, leading to speculation that Sheetrit might have decided quit the September 17 Kadima leadership race and endorse Livni. Sheetrit has been averaging 10 percent in the polls, far behind the front-runners, Livni and Mofaz. Sheetrit said he told Livni that he intended to remain in the race until the end. But if a run-off race between Livni and Mofaz is held, Kadima officials said it was likely that both Sheetrit and the fourth candidate in the race, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, would support Livni.