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Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz 370.(Photo by: Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post)
Kadima staying independent - for now
By Gil Stern Stern HOFFMAN
Party officials say Yesh Atid's political agenda similar to that of Kadima, but added that this was not a reason to merge.
Kadima will remain an independent party for the foreseeable future and not merge with another faction in the Knesset, sources in the party said on Monday, following reports that a merger was being sought by both Likud Beytenu and Yesh Atid.

The two seats Kadima won when it narrowly passed the electoral threshold in last Tuesday’s election could give a big boost to either Likud Beytenu or Yesh Atid.

Likud Beytenu would grow from 31 to 33 seats and solidify the ruling party. Yesh Atid could rise from 19 seats to 21, more than the Likud’s 20 MKs among the 31 in the joint Likud Beytenu faction. If Likud and Yisrael Beytenu break up, Yesh Atid could become the largest Knesset faction in its first-ever term.

A Kadima MK said there was no doubt that Yesh Atid would be a more natural partner than Likud. Kadima officials said Yesh Atid’s political agenda was similar to that of Kadima, but added that this was not a reason to merge.

“A lot of trial balloons have been floated lately,” a Kadima official said. “But our party’s future will not be decided soon.”

A Kadima spokesman would only say that party chairman Shaul Mofaz called Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid to congratulate him on his party’s success in the election.

One factor that could prevent a merger is that former prime minister Ehud Olmert still has a lot of support in Kadima’s institutions, and he wants to use the party as his base for a comeback if he is cleared of all charges in the ongoing investigations against him.

In the past when parties narrowly entered the Knesset, they merged with other factions to maximize their effectiveness. This occurred with Ariel Sharon’s Shlomzion party in 1977 and Natan Sharansky’s Yisrael B’aliya in 2003.
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