faction is seeking to declare the four Knesset members who arranged to leave the party for the Likud
in exchange for government portfolios
This means that these MKs, who have yet to officially announce their departure, will not be able to run for a Knesset seat on behalf of Kadima at the next elections and will lose their eligibility for party funding.
The four are MKs Avraham Duan, Arie Bibi, Otniel Schneller and Yulia Shamalov-Berkovich. They could not be reached for a comment.
On Monday, Kadima Chairman Shaul Mofaz
convened a press conference where he fiercely slammed the four, stating he won't keep them in the party against their will. "Whoever negotiated with Netanyahu
and was willing to take part in this disgrace has some soul searching to do and some questions to answer to the public that put him in the Knesset," he said.
Mofaz slams Kadima MKs (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
"Anyone was wants to join the corrupt go ahead and leave, anyone who wants to join the draft-dodgers go ahead and leave, anyone who wants to take political bribes go ahead and leave, anyone who wants to join forces with Netanyahu – leave now."
Mofaz did not mince words or spare the four of harsh accusations. "We will not allow the prime minister to legitimize the draft-dodging
disgrace with political bribes and benefits," he said.
"Kadima will not embark on adventures that will endanger the future of our sons and daughters. Kadima has a path, an agenda and whoever is not part of this path, whoever chooses his own personal interests over the national interest is free to leave."
'Rebel' MKs: (Clockwise from top) Arie Bibi, Otniel Schneller, Avraham Duan and Yulia Shamalov-Berkovich
Kadima sent a letter to the Knesset House Committee which is set to discuss its request to declare the four as "secessionists." Knesset sources explained the move is a complex one and is unlikely to be approved.
The letter included quotes by the four MKs relating to their decision to join the coalition. "This is a clear case of withdrawal from a faction where Kadima MKs join the coalition in exchange for positions," Mofaz wrote.
Commenting on Mofaz's harsh statements, members of the Likud faction said, "Mofaz is now the chairman of a quarter faction. Even those who sat beside him don't believe his slogans. Everyone remembers what Mofaz seems to have forgotten – he's the one who approved the Tal Law,
when he enthusiastically voted in its favor in 2007."
Mofaz later convened the Kadima party for a meeeting without the four MKs. During the meeting he declared, "I am not going to quit. I was elected with an overwhelming majority. I shall lead Kadima in the next elections and later, if someone wants to run, the door is open."
Mofaz was responding to comments by MK Robert Tibayev who wrote a harsh letter demanding the former's resignation.
Meanwhile, outgoing opposition chairwoman, Labor's Shelly Yachimovich,
reiterated her call for early elections on November 27. She announced she will gladly welcome "those rare, virtuous MKs who share the Labor's world view and have realized that Kadima has ran its course."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak
also commented on the matter, finding it particularly amusing. "I want to say that the Independence Party will under no circumstance accept more than seven MKs from any one of the factions reconsidering its future."
A Kadima split requires that seven MKs quit the party. However, several of the MKs who were said to be among the "rebel" group appeared less keen to change ranks Monday morning.
MK Yaakov Edri issued a statement saying "he has not signed any document and is not joining any body." His spokeswoman said he will consider his future in the party.
MK Nino Abesadze, who was also mentioned as part of the "rebel" group, said, "I will not be part of any move that bolsters Netanyahu and enables him to pass an empty Tal bill and a ruthless budget." She further added, "No doubt Kadima has ran its course but if I make a political move it will be solely based on ideology, without reward and not as part of a backroom deal."
Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report