Lawmakers Reject New Faction, Keeping Gaydamak Out of Knesset

The Knesset House Committee voted down recognition of a new Knesset faction, Justice for Pensioners, which would have then merged with Arcadi Gaydamak's Social Justice Party.

An angry Gaydamak, in Moscow, spoke with Haaretz, saying: "Knesset members revealed their true anti-democratic faces. The affair allowed politicians without any ideology to turn anti-Gaydamak into an alternative to ideology."

After the 13 to 7 vote, the MKs who split off from the Pensioners sent Gaydamak an official letter informing him they are canceling any connection between the parties. "We have reached the conclusion that the connection with Gaydamak would be a red flag, and therefore there is no chance it would be approved," said the new faction's spokeswoman, Hagit Harel. She said the faction would soon start talks with other parties.

Gaydamak said yesterday he does not need a Knesset faction to remain popular. It would have been a great honor for the MKs who voted against the new faction to sit beside him in the Knesset, he said.

Now, he added, he will make sure to win so many votes in the next elections they will not find room to sit.

Gaydamak said he will not petition the High Court of Justice concerning the vote, as the establishment of the new faction has no importance in light of the Knesset elections, which will be coming soon.

The deal the breakaway MKs had with Gaydamak met with opposition across political spectrum. The Knesset legal adviser, Nurit Elstein, said its original formulation violated the law, and sections were removed before this week's vote.

MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) called it "entering through the back door" and Zahava Gal-On (Meretz) said it would be a "representation of the underworld in the Knesset. "If we allow the split, we are approving buying a party with money," warned Shelly Yachimovich (Labor).