Mofaz Seeks to Officially Expel MKs Seeking to Join Netanyahu Cabinet

Former vice prime minister seeks Knesset House Committee's approval to oust four party members from Kadima, following a failed attempt to split the party.

Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz announced on Monday his wish to push out four of his party's MKs, following recent attempts by a group of Kadima members to drop out of the Knesset faction and join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition.

Earlier Monday, Kadima sources indicated that efforts to split Kadima have failed after several MKs, as one party official called it, "got cold feet," effectively ending the move to split, which requires at least seven MKs.

According to the sources, the "attempts to split [Kadima] have come down like a house of cards," adding that MKs Nino Abesadze, Nachman Shai, Yaakov Edri and Zeev Bielski all backtracked on their initial intent to withdraw.

In addition, party sources estimated that the move to split came to a halt following an announcement by MK Avraham Duan, who told the media that he was about to be named deputy social affairs minister.

Following that announcement, the other would-be Kadima rebels feared that their move would be branded as an opportunistic one, and decided to forgo the split.

In a letter sent later in the day, Mofaz indicated that he sought to convene the Knesset's House Committee for it to approve the ejection of those MKs who have refused to back down their intention to leave the party from KAdima.

Those MKs are Duan, Yulia Shamalov Berkovich, Arie Bibi, and Otniel Schneller.

If the House Committee decides to approve their expulsion from Kadima, they would have one of two options: either join Likud, which would prevent them from running in the next elections, or resign from the Knesset, at which case Kadima could name four new MKs in their stead.

"Those who want to join the corrupt can go," Mofaz later said in a statement to the press, adding: "Those who want to receive political bribes or a junior position in an oversized cabinet, can go. Those who want to sell their values, can go."

The former vice prime minister added that anyone "who negotiated with Netanyahu, and was willing to be part of the Netanyahu-Hanegbi disgrace, should think long and hard with his family and the public that sent him."

Earlier Thursday, it was reported that Kadima officials were working to depose Mofaz from his role as party head, 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.