Amid fears of party split, Kadima MKs lambaste Netanyahu-Mofaz unity cabinet
Speaking at left-wing conference in Tel Aviv, MKs Shlomo Molla, Nino Abesadze urge exit from 'Bolshevik coalition'; Yair Lapid: Netanyahu government has to go.
Kadima MKs explicitly expressed their discontent following a surprise deal that introduced the party into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition on Friday, with a split in the one-time opposition faction seeming likelier than ever.
The party officials spoke at a Tel Aviv conference organized by left-wing NGO Peace Now.
Kadima MK Shlomo Molla said that if his party "doesn't condition its being part of the coalition in advancing the peace process, then we have nothing to do there."
"If that doesn't happen we need to admit that we're the Likud's useless baggage. I can certainly say that I personally won't be there," he said, adding: "There are bad winds blowing through Israeli society – there's a lot of racism, discrimination of minorities, wronging refugees."
Molla said it was the "spirit of the radical right which joins this entire atmosphere, offering to confront the Palestinians, to avoid peace, and to make [Palestinians] disappear from the public eye. Netanyahu is both running away and covering up."
Molla also referred to a meeting held earlier in the day, in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's top cabinet ministers – including new Vice Prime Minister and Kadima chief Shaul Mofaz – discussed the fate of the Ulpana Hill outpost in the West Bank.
"If Mofaz didn't draw a red line in today's meeting, saying that a discussion to legitimize West Bank outposts shouldn't even take place, then we're just the Likud and we were introduced to make the Likud look better," Moll said.
The Kadima MK added: "We have nothing to do there, that should be clear," saying that the "first test is the [outpost] regulating law. It's a stain on this government that there's even a discussion of the possibility of creating a High Court-bypassing law."
Also speaking at the conference, party member Nino Abesadze called the newly formed coalition "[Likud MK Ze'ev] Elkin's Bolshevik coalition," adding that "this mad Elkin and [Likud MK Tzipi] Hotovely camp must be stopped."
"Until now, I've respected the party's rules. From now on, I don't feel obligated," she added.
The comments were the most explicit attack against the newly formed unity cabinet since it was decided earlier this week, with many speculating that several Kadima MKs could retire from the party.
Five MKs are believed to be looking for a way out of the party under the right circumstances - Molla, Abesadze, Orit Zuaretz, Nino, Robert Tiviaev and Majallie Whbee. Most of this group was not present when the Knesset voted in the national unity government on Wednesday.
If they can persuade two more lawmakers to join them, they will have the requisite seven members entitling them to funding as a separate faction; if the number rises to nine, their faction could lead the opposition.
The five are said to be waiting for word from Livni. If she establishes a new party, which Livni observers say is fairly likely considering her conduct since she lost the Kadima chairmanship, the five can be expected to join her.
The conduct of these five MKs could spark numerous crises even before the new government deals with an alternative to the Tal Law on widespread exemptions from military service for ultra-Orthodox men, or with the evacuation of the Ulpana neighborhood in the West Bank settlement of Beit El, as ordered by the High Court of Justice.
One of these MKs said: "On Sunday MK Miri Regev's bill on annexation of settlements is coming up for a vote. Are we supposed to vote for it? What will be left of our principles?"
The MK added: "What if they want to raise VAT to 17 percent? I won't agree to that under any circumstances."
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Kadima Council and one of the party's founders, Haim Ramon, announced he was leaving the party. He is expected to join Livni in founding a new party.
"Kadima is at the end of the road in terms of what it was supposed to be - an alternative to the government," Ramon said on Thursday. Ramon said he believed Kadima would disappear into Likud in the next elections.
Also referring to the stalled Mideast peace process in the wake of the new unity cabinet, would-be politician and former news anchor Yair Lapid told a gathering in the city of Kfar Sava that the Israeli leadership "took its most urgent problem and decided we don't want to mess with it since it causes inconvenience in the party."
"Everyone knows how the conflict with the Palestinians is going to end, but we don't know how long it will take and how much blood will be spilled, and we're still staying away from the negotiations table," Lapid said, adding: "It's irresponsible."
The former journalist added: "We need to topple this bad government."