Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday accused rival faction Kadima of planning to make sweeping concessions over Jerusalem to the Palestinians.
"For the first time in the history of our nation, we come upon a development that we are unfamiliar with and that we cannot remember whereby the ruling party in our midst will come and offer up Jerusalem even to the worst of our enemies," Netanyahu said during an appearance at a Jerusalem conference commemorating 70 years since the founding of the Rabbi Kook Institute.
Also in attendance at the event was Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who uncharacteristically showered praise on the Likud chairman. Yosef referred to Netanyahu as "my dear, beloved friend" who "does a great deal for the Torah."
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) on Sunday vowed to form a coalition government before local authority elections on November 11.
"Israel does not need general elections now, in light of the existential challenges facing us," Mofaz said, during his speech at an election rally for the Kiryat Ono municipal elections.
Mofaz, who is locked in what is widely regarded to be a two-person race for the Kadima chairmanship against Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, said last Friday that the latest poll numbers indicating an advantage in favor of his rival in the Kadima Party primaries in September are bound to change.
"I wouldn't advise anyone to base the future on polls," Mofaz said on Friday.
"[The polls] are a mood, and this will change. I'm sure that I will win the primaries."
Livni would lead Kadima to victory over Likud if elections were held today, according to a special poll conducted by Dialog last Thursday on behalf of Haaretz.
For all the bitter struggle between Livni and Mofaz, Thursday's poll, conducted a day after Olmert announced that he would not seek re-election as Kadima's leader, shows that the foreign minister is the only politician who currently has enough public support to defeat Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu.
The poll of 503 Israelis, which has a margin of error of 4.1 percent, showed that in national elections, Kadima headed by Livni would win 26 seats in the Knesset, compared to 25 for Likud under Netanyahu.
Netanyahu has consistently led in the polls for the past two years, but Thursday's survey seems to indicate that the political arena is changing.
Kadima members fuming at LivniSenior Kadima members have harsh words for Livni for refusing to make a public promise to stay in Kadima even if she loses the party's leadership race.
"It is very strange that Livni, who prides herself on being among the party's founders, is unwilling to state explicitly that this is her home. It raises questions and looks really bad from a public standpoint," one prominent party member said.
The issue arose in the past few days, prompted by a "candidate declaration" being drafted by Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik and MK Tzachi Hanegbi, the latter of whom who heads Kadima's committee for party affairs. The declaration includes a commitment to remain in the party, as well as a promise to reserve the second spot on the list for the candidate who takes second place in the primary.
Associates of Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz said he is expected to support the document, and in any event intends to stay in Kadima, as he has announced previously. By contrast, Livni's confidants took the line that "she intends to win, and isn't dealing with other things."
Kadima's Knesset faction convenes Tuesday for the first time since Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's announced he would not seek reelection, and will discuss the "candidate declaration."
At a campaign rally last night in Kiryat Ono a few hours after Mofaz returned from a visit to the United States, he announced that after winning the primary he would form a national unity government, even before the municipal elections scheduled for November 11.
"We don't need [general] elections at a time like this when such complex matters are on the agenda. We must form a national unity government and contend with these challenges," Mofaz said.
The rally, which was held for Kadima's candidate for mayor of Kiryat Ono, Ami Kahlon, was attended by ministers and Knesset members, including Livni, who entered the hall only after Mofaz had exited by another door. Associates of both candidates said it was a mere coincidence, not an effort to prevent their meeting.
Mofaz and Livni both showered praise on the young Kahlon, who is among the party's former Likudniks. Others who praised him at the rally were ministers Gideon Ezra, Roni Bar-On, and Ruhama Avraham-Balila, as well as MKs Hanegbi, Yohanan Plesner and Abraham Hirchson.
Livni and Mofaz have been busy recruiting support from faction members, and have more meetings lined up with all of its ministers and MKs, with their eyes on the quadruple prize: Vice Premier Haim Ramon, Bar-On, Itzik and Hanegbi. These four have the power to influence the party rank-and-file, and the word is that all are still on the fence.
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