Livni Caves, Announces Early Kadima Primaries

Opposition leader MK Tzipi Livni says the party's primaries will be held earlier, dismisses possibility that Mofaz could win.

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Elad Benari,

Mofaz, Livni
Mofaz, Livni
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Opposition leader MK Tzipi Livni (Kadima) said on Monday that she intends to hold early primaries in her party.

Speaking to Channel 2 News, Livni said, “The primaries in Kadima will be held early and I’m going to win them and lead Kadima.” She did not specify a date for the primaries.

Livni has been under pressure by her party members, especially MK Shaul Mofaz, to move the primaries to an earlier date. Mofaz has also announced his intention to run against Livni. According to Kadima regulations, only the chairperson can decide when the primaries will be held.

Just several weeks ago Livni rejected the idea of early primaries, accusing Mofaz of “letting personal struggles hurt Kadima and come at the expense of its struggles on the national level.”

“My decision will be taken, first and foremost, based upon what is good for Kadima and the challenges before us,” she said. “In any case, Kadima will be prepared for early general elections, including primaries.”

Mofaz ran against Livni in the 2008 primaries and lost. Livni expressed her confidence on Monday that the same scenario will happen again this time, telling Channel 2 that “it won’t happen” when asked about the possibility that Mofaz could win.

The reasons for her decision to hold the primaries at an earlier date are unknown, but some speculated she could be motivated by journalist Yair Lapid’s announcement on Sunday that he would be entering politics.

Polls released on Monday, the day after Lapid’s announcement, showed that a new party formed by him would mostly take away votes from Kadima. If elections were held today, according to a poll carried out for Channel 10, Kadima would lose more than half of its current 28 seats and end up with only 12 Knesset Members.

Livni rejected the polls which predict her party’s fall and said it is early to eulogize Kadima. About Lapid she said, “Whatever he chooses will be acceptable, whether he chooses to join Kadima and be a part of it or chooses to join the camp led by Kadima.”

“I am focused on a task,” she said, “and as far as I’m concerned Yair’s joining yesterday and any other person who will join to support this task is important, because ultimately these are Kadima’s partners under my leadership. Anyone who joins the camp is a partner. In the end the election will be about who should be prime minister, and Kadima is the only alternative to replace Netanyahu.”