MK Avi Dichter (Kadima), formerly the director of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), officially announced on Sunday that he will run for the leadership of the Kadima party on March 27.
Dichter, who also ran for the party’s leadership in 2008, will once again face off against current party leader MK Tzipi Livni and MK Shaul Mofaz. In the 2008 primaries, Dichter only achieved 6.5 percent of the vote and came in fourth, behind Livni, Mofaz and MK Meir Sheetrit.
While Livni has rejected the notion of Kadima joining Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition, Dichter is claiming that he is in favor of this idea and has promised that if elected, he will have Kadima enter the coalition.
“Israel is in one of its most difficult hours and faces new threats, the likes of which we have not know since its inception,” he said on Sunday as he announced his candidacy. “The continued presence of the largest Zionist party in the Knesset in the opposition is cynically dangerous and is a lack of national responsibility. Kadima has been completely absent from the decision making process because of the strategic mistake of its leader who chose not to join the government and spent three precious years with no significant contribution to the country.”
Kadima is currently the largest party in the Knesset but its support has been crumbling in recent months, especially since journalist Yair Lapid announced his entry into politics. Polls immediately afterwards showed his gaining anywhere from seven to more than 15 Knesset seats, most of them at the expense of Kadima. Other polls taken after Mofaz announced his candidacy for leader showed that he would achieve even fewer seats than Kadima would achieve under Livni’s leadership.
“The whole area around us, for the past year, has been undergoing an earthquake which I would rate as 9 on the ‘Dichter scale’,” Dichter told Arutz Sheva shortly after announcing he is entering the leadership race.
“It started in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, now it’s Syria,” Dichter added, referring to the Arab Spring. “Nobody knows what countries are next, and therefore I think we, the Israeli government, cannot continue without recruiting all the forces and the Israeli politicians.”
“I think that the Kadima party,” he said, “which is a centrist party with almost a quarter of the seats in parliament, cannot be outside the coalition in such a challenging time.”
Regarding Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent threats against Israel, the former ISA chief said that “three good statements don’t mean one good action, and what we need is one good action.”
Dichter said he expects the United States to make a clear statement that Iran will not be able to achieve nuclear weapons and that any means will be taken to stop its nuclear program. He added that he thinks Israel should wait for such a statement.
“I think that Israel is not a superpower,” he said. “We cannot lead the world offensive against Iran. We have to participate, we have to give all kinds of information and intelligence that we have. We need to prepare, just in case nobody plans to do anything, but to lead it will be a total mistake by the State of Israel.”