Mofaz shaken as MKs threaten to leave Kadima

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 26, 2012

The leadership of Shaul Mofaz has been seriously weakened by attempts of Kadima Knesset members to leave the party and join either the coalition or a new party headed by former Kadima leader Tzipi Livni.
One of the party’s founders and a former minister has already announced he is joining Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet.

Mr Netanyahu has repeatedly tried for over three years to detach part of Kadima’s Knesset faction and has offered prospective rebels cabinet positions and the chairmanship of key committees.
Mr Netanyahu believes that Kadima, founded six and half years ago when former prime minister Ariel Sharon broke away from Likud, is a temporary entity.

In May, when Mr Mofaz agreed to enter the coalition, many saw it as a first step towards a return to Likud but, last week, Kadima once again left the coalition following the breakdown of talks on drafting yeshivah students to national service.

Not all the party members were happy with Mr Mofaz’s decision and a number held talks with representatives of the prime minister in order to leave Kadima and remain in the coalition.

Israeli parliamentary law mandates that at least quarter of a party’s MKs are required to form a new faction; in Kadima’s case this means at least seven. While a larger number were wavering, only four MKs were prepared to take the plunge, and the move fell through. Mr Mofaz responded by threatening to expel the four rebels and take away their parliamentary privileges.

In the end the four remained in the party, but another senior Kadima member, former minister Tzahi Hanegbi, announced this week that he was leaving the party since “its leadership no longer represents my positions” and rejoining the Likud.

Meanwhile, another group of Kadima MKs is discussing the possibility of leaving the party and re-forming under Tzipi Livni, who earlier this year lost the party leadership to Mr Mofaz.

While Ms Livni has not officially announced she is founding a new party, her long-time ally, former minister Chaim Ramon, is organising a new political group and it is thought that six MKs have already agreed to join it.

Last updated: 12:17pm, July 26 2012