Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni officially announced Wednesday that the Kadima primaries will be moved up. Elections for the new party chair will be held at the end of the Knesset's winter session, on March 27.
Livni said she will seek reelection adding she was confident that she will win. "These primaries will decide not only who will serve as the next Kadima chairman but whether Netanyahu will remain prime minister, and that depends on the selection of the Kadima chairperson," she told reporters.
"Only under my leadership will Kadima once again be an alternative to Netanyahu's government and… create a government with natural partners that focus only on the State of Israel's interests and not just certain sectors (within Israeli society).
"Israel's citizens cannot afford to leave Netanyahu's extremist government in power," Livni said, adding that elections in Israel were already on the horizon: "The elections are coming closer and Kadima needs to be ready and will be ready for elections."
She also noted that she was unwilling to allow "small and petty" politics to ruin Kadima and "prevent the citizens of Israel from receiving the hope they deserve."
'Livni damaged Kadima'
Livni will be facing MK Shaul Mofaz, who has declared on several occasions that he will seek the party's chairmanship.
Mofaz has a growing support base within the party, and is reportedly already campaigning for the position.
"Tzipi Livni has effectively finished her role as Kadima's chairwoman," Mofaz said Wednesday. "Today, the campaign to replace Netanyahu has begun and I am going to lead it.
"It will begin by restoring Kadima to its rightful place in Israeli politics and will continue by bolstering Israel's moral, social and Zionist paths."
Mofaz blamed Livni for "damaging Kadima with her hesitant, tired and stuttered conduct. I will resort Kadima as the major alternative to the Feiglinstic alliance in the Likud. I urge all voters to join me in the journey to set Kadima as Israel's leader."
Livni's campaign said that the chairwomen is likely to beat Mofaz, especially in view of recent polls that show that a Mofaz-led Kadima will win only a handful of Knesset seats.
"The recent polls have not been kind to Kadima, but they have been even less kind to Mofaz. The numbers say the party won't remain a viable political force with him as chairman," a Kadima source said.
Mofaz' campaign rejected the statement saying that "Kadima needs a reboot and that can only happen with a new chairman. Mofaz appeals to various (voting) sectors that the party hasn’t tapped into yet," a source in the Mofaz campaign said.
"Once people understand that he can do that," he added, "Mofaz will have the momentum needed to elevate the party."
MKs Avi Dichter and Meir Sheetrit have also announced that the will seek the party's chairmanship.
A Likud statement following Livni's announcement said: "The Likud is the only party whose positions are relevant to the security, political and economic challenges Israel faces in the next few years."
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