Senior members of the Kadima party have claimed recently that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is sabotaging Chairwoman Tzipi Livni's election campaign and not behaving as would be expected from a prime minister during elections.
The criticism grew stronger over the weekend, after Kadima members read the public opinion polls and realized that their party was losing power, while the Likud and Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu were gaining popularity.
"Olmert fails to consider the fact that Kadima has entered an election campaign period," said one senior official, known as the prime minister's close associate.
The criticism was mostly directed at Olmert's statements during the state ceremony in memory of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on Jerusalem's Mount Herzl, when he said Israel should return to the 1967 border.
"His remarks are irresponsible, particularly when it comes to diplomatic issues, and voices opinions which suit the Labor Party or Meretz," said one of the officials, a Kadima minister.
Senior party members have also claimed that the prime minister excludes the foreign minister from diplomatic processes and is trying "to make her look small".
According to one minister, "Olmert is erasing Kadima. First he erased (Labor Chairman Ehud) Barak and now he wants to erase Livni, because they were both responsible for his dismissal process."
After Olmert spoke about dividing the land, another Kadima minister turned to Livni and told her, "Tzipi, he's damaging us. He will harm our election campaign." Livni was cautious in her response, saying "I hear what he's saying just like you."
Only some of Kadima's officials are willing to discuss the issue in public, but the matter is raised in private conversations between the party members.
"I would expect the prime minister, who was one of the founders and leaders of Kadima, to help the party succeed in the elections a bit more," Minister Jacob Edery said Sunday.
Kadima Faction Chairman Yoel Hasson also commented on the issue, saying "I don’t like the views Olmert has been presenting recently, and I was one of the only MKs who said so.
"Kadima's stance is Tzipi Livni's stance, not Olmert's. The prime minister's remarks are harming our campaign, but I don’t think the prime minister is doing this in order to harm us."
An aide to Olmert, who landed in Washington on Sunday for a farewell meeting with US President George W. Bush, said in response that "the claims, if there are any, are unworthy of a comment."