Kadima officials are working to depose Shaul Mofaz from his role as party head, Haaretz learned on Monday, citing the outgoing vice prime minister's weak poll numbers.
The reported plan came as Kadima seemed to edge closer to a full-on split, with former minister Tzachi Hanegbi spearheading efforts to convince at least seven Kadima MKs - the minimum required to create a new faction - to break off and rejoin the coalition of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"Kadima is a sinking ship, it's a fait accompli. All its MKs are looking for lifeboats," said one Kadima MK.
According to party officials, the plan is to either push Mofaz out of office, or force him into another vote for party head, after taking reign from former Kadima chief Tzipi Livni in March of this year.
Kadima sources also expected former Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter to run for the party's leadership, with a Kadima MK telling Haaretz that "Dichter, who was one of those who wanted Kadima to stay in the government, saw that Hanegbi will be the one to get the top portfolio, thus thwarting his possible joining with those leaving the party."
"But now he's determined to try and beat Mofaz, and consequently ensuring that he'll be elected into the Knesset with the few seats the party will get in the upcoming elections," the Kadima source said.
Meanwhile, Kadima MK Robert Tiviaev, one of the Tzipi Livni's top supporters in the party, sent Mofaz a harsh letter on Sunday, demanding the Kadima chairman to resign.
"We see today the damage you caused by unreasonably entering the government, with the party divided and falling apart, in which your closest aides distrust your leadership and choose the leadership of the prime minister, who you wish to replace," he wrote.
Also on Monday, Likud officials estimated that the expected split within Kadima's ranks was meant as "payback," after Kadima effectively split Likud upon its formation. They also said that the move won't likely result in moving up the elections further, with the vote currently set for February.
"Netanyahu has sought to 'destroy' Kadima ever since he came into office. He tried, unsuccessfully, to convince Mofaz to split and return to Likud during Livni's term, and later tried to sway another group [of MKs]," one official said, adding that "now, on the verge of an elections, the move has been completed."
According to the official, the maneuver wasn't meant to increase Netanyahu's chances of political survival. The polls show he's in excellent condition, and better off to turn to elections as long as he's popular."
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