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Thursday, August 23, 2007

A narrow ray of light at the end of the tunnel

This could be the first narrow ray of light at the end of the tunnel that calls itself the Kadima party. On the other hand, it might not be.

This morning's Jerusalem Post is reporting that as many as ten MK's from the Kadima Achora party are 'seriously considering' abandoning their party before the release of the final Winograd Report on last summer's war, which may not be for another year.

Read this report carefully:
A group of at least 10 Kadima MKs is seriously considering breaking off from Kadima before the final Winograd Report on the Second Lebanon War comes out, in order to maximize their power and guarantee their political future, one of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's allies in the faction revealed this week.

The MK said Olmert's assumption that he would face no major political crisis until the release of the Winograd Report, due no earlier than October, was false.
The number ten is significant. Under Knesset rules, MK's who want to leave a faction between elections must either join another Knesset faction, or make a new faction of their own. But to make a new faction of their own, at least one third of the members of the existing faction must join together. Kadima Achora has twenty-nine MK's.

Note that they are doing so out of pure self-interest and not to save the country from the Olmert-Barak-Livni government. This tells me that it's a personal thing against Olmert, and if Olmert were to 'see the light' and resign in favor of Tzipi Feigele Livni, many of them would back off. The fact that this was allegedly revealed to the Post by "one of Olmert's allies" tells me that the leaker is someone who wants to keep Kadima Achora in power, and is hoping to bring about a change in leadership - not new elections and not the fall of the government.
One of the MKs leading the rebellion said that cabinet ministers, crucial to the success of the revolt, were involved.
I'm sure they are. I'd bet Shaul Mofaz is one - he could go back to the Likud tomorrow morning and be defense minister in a Netanyahu-led government. Avi Dichter may be another; he's known to be unhappy with how the government has handled Gaza. I would not bet on Feigele being one of the ministers - her interest is in removing Olmert and taking over the party; she could not lateral to another party and get a high position.

The rest of the MK's - as the article implies - are likely from the bottom ranks.
MK Ze'ev Elkin, who angered Olmert by refusing to vote for the election of Shimon Peres as president in June, went on record as saying, "I don't think we have to wait for Winograd to fix all of Kadima's problems."
But note that what he really wants is to 'fix all of Kadima's problems, which means getting rid of Olmert.
Some of the MKs involved in the uprising are interested in forcing Olmert out of the Kadima chairmanship due to his supposed failures in the Second Lebanon War and his unpopularity in the polls. And some of them would agree to call off the rebellion if he were to be replaced.

Many of the rebels are backbenchers who would have little chance of getting reelected in Kadima and are unattractive to other parties, who hope that leaving at an opportune time might allow them to negotiate realistic slots on another party list before the next election. [Why bother? The benefits of being an ex-MK in this country are outrageously good. CiJ]

At least two of the MKs have met secretly with Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu, who expressed interest in bringing them into his party.
I would bet on that being Mofaz, Dichter and possibly Otniel Schneller.
Other Kadima legislators have recently discussed their futures with the leaders of Labor and Israel Beiteinu.

MK Yisrael Katz, who heads the Likud's governing secretariat, said that as time went on, the value of lawmakers who might break off from Kadima diminished. Katz, who is in charge of deciding whether to waive a three-year party membership minimum for a candidate to run for the Likud's Knesset slate, said he would rather see the list filled with names like former IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Moshe Ya'alon and former finance minister Dan Meridor than the least popular MKs in Kadima.

"I haven't given up on 10 Kadima MKs breaking off and joining us, but I only want them if they come soon," Katz said. "Otherwise they would need us more than we need them. It's only worth getting the [MK Eli] Aflalos if they have something to give us, like advancing the election [date] or significantly hurting Kadima."
Katz is right.

I look at this as a tempest in a teapot. The Knesset members are too concerned with their own welfare to do anything to bring Olmert down unless they are assured of getting ahead. Most of them will not get any such promises.


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