Livni: I Alone Decide When Primaries Will Be Held

Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni tried to silence media rumors her party was headed for primaries, as well as internal dissent.

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Gabe Kahn.,

Tzipi Livni
Tzipi Livni
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Embattled opposition chairwoman Tzipi Livni (Kadima) said Monday she alone would decide when her party would hold primaries.

"I'll decide when we have primaries," Livni told her faction at a party meeting.. "Recently, I hear voices in the media recently about holding primaries. If someone thinks the first thing you do in Kadima is hold primaries - they are wrong and I will not aid them in accomplishing it."

"The decision based must be what is best for Kadima and solely for Kadima. This will be my decision. I decide," Livni said. "What happens from here on to Kadima is up to us. This will not be a party where brother is against brother as we are the only alternative to the Netanyahu government."

Livni has come under increasing fire from knesset members  in her own party - including Shaul Mofaz, Yulia Shamalov Berkowitz, and Zevulun Orlev for unilaterally aligning a party that officially bills itself as "center right" with the labor party's newly appointed hard-left leader, Shelly Yechomovitch.

She has also been broadly critized for her style as opposition leader, which instead of providing a clear ideological and political alternative, has been described as "opposition for its own sake."

Kadima plummetted from 28 to 18 seats in recent polls, being eclipsed by a reinvigoriated Labor party that skyrocketed in the polls from 8 to 22 seats. Another poll shows similar results, but also a strengthening of the governing coalition - run by Livni arch-rival Binyamnin Netanyahu's Likud - to as many as 70 seats.

During the meeting Livni reportedly asked if anyone would care to hold a vote on primaries, but no motion was brought forward. MK Ronit Tirosh said she favored primaries, but expected Livni as party leader to call for them.

MK Yulia Shamalov Berkowitz tried to speak during the meeting, but was not allowed to do so, and was forced to enter her comments into the record after the meeting was adjourned.