The Kadima party decided to unanimously reject Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's offer to join the coalition Monday. The documented decision stated that Netanyahu's offer did not show an honest intention for partnership.
"The offer does not honor its proposer, nor does it honor the largest party in the Knesset, which is committed to promote its vision and main principles, which include changing the government system – therefore the offer cannot be accepted," read the document.
Earlier Monday Kadima MKs convened at a faction meeting. Party Chairwoman Tzipi Livni presented the MKs with the prime minister's offer to form a unity government, which he outlined to her during their meeting Sunday night.
Kadima MKs Ruhama Avraham, Jacob Edery, and Meir Sheetrit expressed their opposition to joining the government during the faction meeting.
Joining them in their opposition is Likud Minister Michael Eitan, who is the first Likud member to come out against the attempt to break up Kadima.
Just minutes before the Likud faction meeting, Minister Eitan said, "These types of things have been done in the past; they are being done today as well, but I am not in favor of it continuing like this. All of these moves are not healthy for State and not healthy for democracy."
'I offered true partnership.' PM Netanyahu (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Eitan, who is in charge of improving government services to the public, bemoaned voting in favor of the Mofaz bill, "I explicitly expressed my stance when I opposed the Mofaz bill. But I am a member of the cabinet, so I found myself in a situation in which my options were to resign or vote in favor of the Mofaz bill. I chose not to resign, and thus had to vote in favor of the Mofaz bill. So what was all of my preaching good for now? I am sitting inside (the cabinet) and am part of the issue…"
MK Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) took the discussion a step further and criticized both the prime minister and the chairwoman of his party: "The move on Netanyahu's part is arrogantly managed. He is arrogant, and arrogance is not a good quality for a leader. I say today to Netanyahu what I said to Livni a few days ago – arrogance is not a replacement for leadership."
Mofaz believes his party should hold primaries. According to him, a unity government is important, but not on any condition. "It is important for there to be a unity government with the goal of leading the peace process and a change in the form of governance. If Kadima has this influence, this should be promoted," he said.
Livni entering the Kadima faction meeting on Monday (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Mofaz called for unity to be maintained within Kadima and for responsibility in the face of Netanyahu's attempts to break up the party. "This proposal is part of the worsening relations between Netanyahu and Kadima. I suggested that in face of Netanyahu's arrogant proposal we make a responsible proposal and ask for coalition-level negotiations even though Netanyahu does not want this. The proposal as it stands today is arrogant and false," asserted Mofaz.
He expressed his opposition to the division of his party. "Kadima's unity must be preserved and division must be prevented. To this end I suggest that primaries be moved up to the nearest date possible," Mofaz said.
"I say we demand Netanyahu form negotiation teams to set goals in the matter of changing the system and promoting the political process. Netanyahu's offer as it stands is arrogant."
During the faction meeting, Netanyahu spoke of the negotiations to add Kadima to the government: "On Sunday, I met Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni another time and offered her – in light of the challenges – to join and strengthen the existing unity government. She told me that the most important think to her is the peace process.
"I said, on the contrary. Today, after eight months of leading the government, we have garnered broad consensus around the principles with which we will approach an agreement with the Palestinians: recognizing Israel as the state of the Jewish people and security arrangements that ensure effective demilitarization, and other principles that I outlined in my Bar-Ilan speech. I told her there is no reason not to join. I offered her true partnership. We spoke of a limited team that would conduct the negotiations."
Netanyahu recounted more about his meeting with Livni: "I asked her a question: If this is what truly interests you, the peace process with the Palestinians, then what reason could there be not to enter the unity government? I understood that the question was raised eight months ago, but do not understand why not now."
"The offer is simple: Enter (the coalition) now when Israel is faced with national and security challenges. All the reasons are there to join. There is no reason to refuse unity," said Netanyahu.
Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report