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      Livni Calls for Kadima Leadership Vote as Support Crumbles

      Kadima leader Tzipi Livni announces leadership primaries for March. Senior Kadima MK Mofaz says she is finished as chairwoman.
      By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
      First Publish: 1/18/2012, 11:29 AM

      Kadima leader Tzipi Livni announced Wednesday morning that she is advancing leadership primaries to take place March 27, shortly before Passover, as polls show the party’s support is crumbling.

      Her announcement comes a week after journalist Yair Lapid declared he will enter politics. Polls immediately afterwards showed his gaining anywhere from seven to more than 15 Knesset seats, most of them at the expense of Kadima.

      The party has been losing support almost ever since Livni took over from disgraced Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, facing criminal charges for bribery. Her number one intra-party nemesis is former IDF Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz, who stated that her days as leader are numbered and that he will win the leadership vote.

      Kadima was founded by then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who as head of the Likud coalition government in 2005 saw that party colleagues might obstruct his determination to carry out the expulsion of more than 9,000 Jews from Gaza and four towns in northern Samaria, destroy their homes and withdraw all Israeli presence from Gaza.

      Kadima has turned out to be one-issue party. Since the expulsion, it was left leaderless when the criminal investigations against Olmert forced him to step down. During his term, he offered the Palestinian Authority several concessions to advance the “peace process,” but the results were further demands by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

      Livni took over the helm for three months until new elections left Kadima with only one more Knesset seat than Likud. Unable to form a coalition, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu took over the government.

      Her policies since have been mainly anti-Netanyahu, criticizing him on virtually every issue but failing to enthuse her own party.