Several Kadima party officials cast harsh criticism on Friday over Chairwoman Tzipi Livni's handling of the coalition negotiations, saying she erred by declaring that a decision will be made by Sunday on whether to form a new government or call for general elections.
"Livni has already been granted a 14-day extension from (President) Shimon Peres to assemble a coalition, so she may as well have waited a bit with the ultimatum, which is detrimental to (the negotiations)," one official said.
A number of Kadima officials are considering asking Livni to r the ultimatum and call Shas back to the negotiating table. Some of them said she should have formed a negotiation team comprised of seasoned politicians.
Meanwhile, associates of outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Livni should have asked him to delay his resignation following her September 17 victory in the Kadima primaries so she would not be forced to conduct the coalition talks during the holiday season.
"What did she gain from this? A lot of time was wasted because of the holidays, and it was impossible to hold serious negotiations with the religious parties," one of them said.
However, a Livni aide rejected the claims, saying there was ample time to reach a coalition agreement. "The proposals presented to Shas were reasonable," he added.
Most of Livni's advisors are recommending that she call for general elections, but there are also those who believe it is still possible to establish a narrow government with Labor, Meretz-Yahad, the Pensioners' Party and three members of United Torah Judaism.
"Livni will make her decision over the weekend," one of the advisors said.