Livni Aims to Stop Mofaz-Dichter Merger Ahead of Kadima Primary Vote

The Livni campaign is asking officials it has contacted to intervene immediately to prevent the unification of campaigns, after Dichter stepped down from the race and endorsing Mofaz earlier this week.

Several days before the elections for Kadima leadership, tensions between the two sides are rising - with Tzipi Livni's campaign team demanding that the merger of Shaul Mofaz and Avi Dichter's campaigns be stopped, arguing that such a move is illegal.

On Friday, attorney Guy Busy contacted the state comptroller, the attorney general and the chairman of the Kadima election committee on behalf of the Livni campaign, asking that the merger be stopped. Busy described it as "a blatant and serious violation of the election rules," and of the state comptroller's instructions on the law of parties.

Kadima activists - Itzik Edrey - March 2012
Itzik Edrey

The Livni camp maintains that, on the basis of the law of parties, "funding is granted to each candidate, and does not allow for the possibility of uniting campaigns." Livni's supporters say that merged campaigns would "grant enormous financial advantage and would essentially double the election campaign that is determined by law for the Mofaz campaign."

The Livni campaign is asking officials it has contacted to intervene immediately to prevent the unification of campaigns.

Earlier last week Dichter announced he was stepping down from the race and endorsing Mofaz who is challenging Livni for party leadership.

"I decided to retire from the race for the leadership of Kadima and unite the campaigns and, in the days that are left [before the election], this sum will be greater than its parts and in the end will result in a decisive victory, in my opinion," Dichter said.

After Dichter left the race Livni's campaign tried to convince his supporters to back the incumbent. MKs supporting Livni called several hundred party members who had said they would support the former head of the Shin Bet security service. Livni's supporters were pleased with the results of their telephone campaign and claimed that many of those who had originally backed Dichter were now likely to vote for Livni. "The results were surprisingly positive," one of the MKs said.

For their part, Mofaz's campaigners expressed confidence that Dichter's supporters would now direct their votes to them.

'Dance on our blood'

Over the weekend the two rival camps carried out visits and assemblies in a number of Arab and Druze communities. About a quarter of the 95,000 party members are from Arab and Druze communities.

Mofaz appears to have a significant advantage among Arab and Druze party members who are organized by vote contractors. In some Arab communities Kadima membership exceeds that in some significantly larger cities like Netanya, Holon, Haifa and Petah Tikva.

One of the communities on Mofaz's list to visit, Beit Jann, is home to the family of Israel Defense Forces soldier Madhat Yusef, who was shot by Palestinians in 2000 at Joseph's Tomb and died because he was not evacuated to hospital in time. Mofaz was IDF chief of staff at the time, and the family insist that they will not meet with him.

Mahdi Yusef, a younger brother, said: "Mofaz called me and said he was going to visit us because he had an event with party activists here. I told him not to come. Why should he come visit us now? There is no point."

In the past Mofaz has avoided visiting the family.

"These politicians are not welcome," Yusef said. "They dance on our blood and they come to us, the Druze, to vote for them. We are used to seeing politicians on two occasions - when there are elections or when there is a soldier draped in an Israeli flag."