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      Kadima's Schneller Calls on His Party to Back Bibi

      MK Otniel Schneller is calling for his party to rise above politics and support Netanyahu. Now is not the time for 'political games,' he says.
      By Maayana Miskin
      First Publish: 5/22/2011, 9:44 PM / Last Update: 5/22/2011, 10:25 PM

      Flash 90

      While Kadima is the political rival of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his Likud party, now is not the time for party politics, said Kadima MK Otniel Schneller, in an interview with Arutz Sheva's Hebrew-language news service.

      “When the Prime Minister of Israel, in this case Netanyahu, is in important meetings with the leader of the free world, we cannot play political games,” he declared. “We must give him our backing in defining our national interests.”

      Schneller said he has asked Kadima and the “Zionist parties” to back Netanyahu despite their usual political differences. Last week he criticized party head Tzipi Livni for admonishing Netanyahu during his U.S. visit.

      Netanyahu represents a broad Israeli consensus, Schneller said. He opposes a return to the 1949 armistice line, believes that a Palestinian state must be demilitarized, opposes settling of Arab refugees in Israel, and believes Israel must maintain its presence in the Jordan Valley and keep the city of Jerusalem unified – all ideas supported by the decisive majority of Israeli citizens.

      Schneller does not expect his entire party to be receptive to his appeal to unity. The party has grown increasingly left-wing, he said.

      “When we established Kadima our goal was to create a middle ground between right and left, between religious and secular, but recently the party is going further left, toward former Shinui members,” he said, adding, “The atmosphere in Kadima is not always comfortable... I want to strengthen those who seek consensus.”