Daily Israel Report

Livni's Foes in Kadima Sharpen Knives as Loss Looms

Senior ministers plotting to topple Livni immediately after expected loss in election. Netanyahu plans to split Kadima, lure defectors.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 1/30/2009, 10:34 AM

Channel 1 TV

Senior ministers from Kadima are plotting to remove Tzipi Livni from the party's top spot in anticipation of Kadima's expected loss in the February 10 elections.

According to a report by journalist Yoav Yitzchak in News1, the process of removing Livni will be put in motion immediately after the elections – assuming the party does indeed take a beating – unless Livni resigns from the position of her own accord.

Yitzchak says that these ministers are currently biding their time quietly and abstaining from any public pronouncements because they believe that “Kadima, which currently has 29 Knesset members, is about to be routed, but in the current circumstances there is nothing to do but try and cut the losses.”  

Double loss
The expected loss is perceived as part two of a double loss by Kadima under Livni's leadership. Part one was when Livni failed to create a government coalition after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert tendered his resignation in September, and President Shimon Peres gave her the nod to form a new government. That failure led to the calling of national elections.

Current polls give Kadima 20 to 23 seats, as compared with the 29 it has today, and some predict Kadima will garner even less than 20. After the elections, senior members of Kadima are expected to call for Livni  to step down. This could cause Kadima to split, or it could lead the party to choose a new chairperson.

Another possibility is that some of Kadima's Knesset Members will defect and join the coalition headed by Likud. Likud head Binyamin Netanyahu is reportedly interested in such a development and has hinted to senior Likud members that he will be luring some of Kadima's top guns into the coalition.

Kadima was formed by former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in November 2005, when he left the Likud after having carried out the expulsion of Jews from Gaza and Northern Samaria. He was joined by a large part of Likud's Knesset faction, as well as politicians from Labor and elsewhere. Some of these former Likud members could conceivably find their way back to their former party.