Knesset Member Shaul Mofaz on Thursday held an urgent meeting with Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni, on the backdrop of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's attempts to split the Kadima faction and tempt some of its members to join his Likud faction. The one-hour meeting was held at Livni's home in Tel Aviv following a request made by Mofaz.
During the meeting, Livni demanded that Mofaz preserve the party's unity while she deals with Netanyahu's efforts to divide it.
"Bibi is trying to split Kadima," she warned. "It's on the table and it's a fact. You and I and all of the party's leaders must stand up to his attempt, rather than be in a situation in which – even if we don't mean to – we are helping him weaken Kadima at this time. I am ready to talk to you about everything, but right now there is one mission which is Kadima's unity, and its lays upon the shoulders of anyone who is a member of the party and cares about it."
Mofaz said upon leaving Livni's house, "We spoke about Kadima's situation. Kadima is facing a breakup. I recommended to the Kadima chairwoman a way in which Kadima's unity could be preserved. I hope that for the first time she will also listen to other voices."
He added, "The things I have said are very clear and unequivocal, and I hope that in this way we will be able to reach a leadership which will know how to make the right decisions and continue leading Kadima to where it should be in order to safeguard our interests."
Mofaz outside Livni's house (Photo: Ofer Amram)
A source close to Livni said ahead of the meeting, "We will prepare to deal with what is happening. This is all part of a maneuver. Mofaz is taking advantage of the situation with Bibi for political games inside Kadima. His move is coordinated with some of the Knesset members whose names were mentioned as deserters. Mofaz is trying to use Livni for his internal wars with Livni."
Mofaz's bid for the party's chairmanship has continued since the 2009 general elections. Talking to party activists, he promised that Kadima would return to the government under his leadership, rather than dry up in the Opposition.
Sources in Kadima and the Likud said Wednesday night that Mofaz has been holding talks with some of his faction members and has told them that he plans to demand that Livni agree to primary elections in Kadima within three months. Otherwise, they said, Mofaz may threaten to split from the faction.
Livni was expected to meet with Netanyahu on Thursday for a regular briefing meeting between the prime minister and opposition leader.
MK Israel Hasson (Kadima) said that he was flattered by the appeals made by Likud elements, but that he had rejected them. "Several sources approached me in the past few days and tried to convince me to desert. I must admit that I was very flattered, but I turned down the offers from the very start."
According to MK Hasson, he updated Livni on the appeals made to him, as "my loyalty to Kadima and the principles it represents is certain."
Sources in the Likud say that some of the 12 to 14 MKs Netanyahu has been holding talks with in recent months have asked for senior positions in return for leaving Kadima. The total cost of the jobs promised to the dissidents may reach NIS 14 million (about $3.5 million) a year.