Lapid Chairman Yosef (Tommy) Lapid has announced his resignation from the Shinui party at a Tel Aviv press conference, a day before a party council was supposed to meet and discuss ejecting him from the party.
"A chapter in my life is over – a chapter I am proud of. Shinui in its current makeup is not deserving of public faith," he added.
The retiring chairman said he takes responsibility for the party's plunge in recent polls, but stressed he was also behind its past meteoric rise.
"I hold a substantial part of the credit for Shinui's achievements, but must also take responsibility for its demise. I take responsibility, but I do not feel guilty," Lapid said.
"The Shinui faction brought honor to the Knesset thanks to its integrity, dedication, and professional knowledge. Shinui replaced the haredi parties in the government, enabled the economic reform, and supported the disengagement," he stated.
Meanwhile, an agreement is being formulated between the members who decided to leave the party and the remaining group headed by the party's number two figure, Ron Levintal. Ynet has learned that the NIS 11 million (about USD 2.4 million) in the party's treasury will be distributed among the withdrawing Knesset members, who will receive one-third of the amount, and the remaining group.
According to the agreement, the party's name will remain in the hands of Levintal's group, which also demanded that all the members leaving the party sign a document indicating they are indeed leaving.
Knesset Member Ehud Rassabi, member of the remaining group and one of the agreement's drafters, told Ynet that "this agreement, if and when it is signed, will create a situation where each of the parties will be free to embark on their own political path."
"We demanded that if the withdrawing members, including Yosef Lapid, no longer wish to be part of Shinui, we ask them to sign that they are leaving the party and its institutions. It's impossible to have a party whose members wish to compete against Shinui, and on the other hand fail to resign from the party and leave a fifth column in it," he said.
At the moment, it seems the negotiations on the agreement have reached a dead end due to disagreement on the party's offices. However, the withdrawing group cannot afford to lose more time, and therefore it appears the agreement will be signed following an expected meeting between the parties Wednesday afternoon.
All of the party's Knesset members are obliged to sign the agreement, which must then be approved by the State Comptroller.