'Mofaz Law' to Enable Defection

Bill presented this week will make it simpler for Shaul Mofaz and other Kadima MKs to defect to Likud. Mofaz 'conducting secret talks' with Likud.

Gil Ronen,

Livni and Mofaz
Livni and Mofaz
Israel News photo: Flash 90

Kadima’s number two man, Shaul Mofaz, is conducting secret talks with Likud ministers and other Knesset members about the possibility that he will lead a group of MKs to defect from Kadima and join forces with Likud.

According to a report in Haaretz, senior Likud members said that party boss Binyamin Netanyahu wants to create a political “safety net” that will preserve his grip on power in the event of future changes in his coalition's makeup. The report says that Netanyahu would also like to enlarge the Likud faction and that he harbors a dream of dismantling the largest opposition party, Kadima.

Earlier this week, a bill initiated by Likud and dubbed the “Mofaz law” was proposed in the Knesset. If passed, it would make it possible for a group of at least seven Knesset members to break away from their faction and create a new one.

Breaking away
Under the current law, a breakaway group needs to comprise at least one third of the original faction. This means that Mofaz would need at least nine members of the 28-member Kadima faction to join him in a defection. Apparently, Mofaz does not have that many supporters in the faction.

The proposed change, however, would make it possible for Mofaz to break off from Kadima with the support of just six other members – a number he is reportedly able to muster.

The Likud intends to change its constitution in order to make it simpler for Mofaz and his cohorts to join, or rejoin its ranks. The constitution will be changed in a way that ensures that the next Knesset list will be selected by all of Likud’s registered members and not just the Central Committee. Mofaz and other potential defectors from Kadima worry that the Central Committee will punish them for defecting from Likud in late 2005 and joining Ariel Sharon in Kadima.

According to Channel 1 News, an opportunity for splitting off from Kadima could present itself around an issue like the Iranian threat or the 'illegal outposts,' or if Netanyahu decides to advance a new diplomatic initiative. In such a case, Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni is expected to refuse to join the government and Mofaz could seize the moment to break away and join the coalition. Haaretz quoted Mofaz as telling his comrades that “Last time, we fell asleep on our watch. If another opportunity to join the government presents itself we must not miss it.” Mofaz denies the quote.

Mofaz, a former Defense Minister, faced off with Livni for leadership of Kadima before the last general elections and lost by a small margin.