The chairman of Kadima, Shaul Mofaz, on Monday succeeded in thwarting another attempt by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to split the major opposition party and to transfer some of its members to the Likud in return for marginal ministerial portfolios.
Both the politicians came out bruised and looking ridiculous from the torpedoed defection. Netanyahu once again exposed his weakness and his fear of early elections, as well as his growing dependence on his partners, Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman and the Shas party. For his part, Mofaz broke his own record of cynicism when he condemned those Knesset members who wanted to join the government that he left only a week ago.
These actions lack importance. Kadima, the former governing party, has completed its political role and is now marching to its dissolution, just as its predecessors did: Dash - the Democratic Movement for Change, Tzomet, the Center Party, and Shinui.
Kadima, the party established by Ariel Sharon after the disengagement from Gaza in order to create a political framework that would enable the evacuation of most West Bank settlements, did not fulfill the vision of its founder. His heirs were not able to make progress in talks with the Palestinians about such an evacuation; nor were they able to create a sustainable ideological alternative to the Likud party from which they came. Since it lacks a position and since the surveys give it zero chance of success, there is no more point in Kadima's continued existence.
The disintegration of Kadima leaves an ideological vacuum in the heart of the political map. The parties competing for the support of Kadima's voters - the Labor Party headed by Shelly Yacimovich and Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party - are depicted as future partners of Netanyahu and are not trying to challenge the right-wing government's policy of strengthening the settlements and repressing democracy. Meretz, headed by Zahava Gal-On, holds commendable positions, but it is not a potential governing party.
Israel is in need of a political body that will present an ideological and practical alternative to the destructive policies of Netanyahu, the right-wing coalition and the ultra-Orthodox. The prime minister's repeated attempts to buy a little more time in power by means of dubious coalition deals show that he is afraid of losing the support of the public despite his good standing in opinion polls. This provides us with an opportunity to fill the vacuum being created by the embarrassing disappearance of Kadima from the arena.
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