The Kadima party strongly attacked Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday over his attempts to split the party and get a group of Knesset members from Kadima to join the coalition.
“The Prime Minister is trying to buy votes of Knesset members in order to prepare the shameful draft law of the Likud in exchange for minor roles in his overblown government,” said a statement released by the party.
The statement added, “This is nothing less than the most egregious kind of political bribery. After he rejected a historic compromise by Kadima, the Prime Minister is trying to authorize a disgrace that encourages evasion of service and perpetuates inequality through political bribery.”
Earlier on Sunday it was reported that a group of seven or eight Knesset members is planning to split off from Kadima and join Likud.
According to Channel 2's Rina Matzliach, the group is led by former Kadima MK Tzachi Hanegbi, who left Likud to join Kadima several years ago. Hanegbi will reportedly become Minister of Home Front Defense as part of the deal.
The identities of the MKs in the group that is planning to split form Kadima are not known. In order to split off from an existing faction of Kadima's size, the rebelling group needs to have a minimum of seven members.
Israeli media reported on Sunday that Hanegbi has been heavily working behind the scenes to arrange the split with representatives of Netanyahu’s government, headed by coalition chairman MK Ze’ev Elkin. Hanegbi denied on Sunday night that he is working to split Kadima, saying his joining the government in not on the agenda at this time.
Meanwhile, it was reported late on Sunday evening that Kadima MK Avi Duan has agreed to be appointed as Deputy Welfare Minister in the Netanyahu government.
Duan’s joining those who are splitting from Kadima is a major blow to party chairman Shaul Mofaz. Duan was considered a confidante of Mofaz’s and headed his headquarters during the recent primaries.
Other reports said that MK Aryeh Bibi will be appointed Deputy Minister of Internal Security, MK Yulia Shamalov-Berkovich will serve as Deputy Minister of Communications and MK Ze’ev Bielski is expected to be appointed minister without portfolio. Negotiations are also reportedly being held with MKs Otniel Schneller and Yaakov Edri.
Polls have shown that Kadima, currently the Knesset’s largest party with 28 seats, is headed for a downfall in the next election. A poll published in the Israeli daily Yediot Acharonot on Friday showed the party with only seven seats if elections were held today.