Breakway Pensioners Tell Gaydamak Deal Off for New Knesset Faction

Knesset rejects Pensioners MKs' bid to form breakway faction with Gaydamak called Justice for Pensioners.

The Pensioners Party MKs who broke away last month with hopes of forming a separate faction with tycoon Arcadi Gaydamak said Wednesday that the deal was off, after a Knesset committee struck down their request.

The head of the breakaway MKs, Moshe Sharoni, vowed to submit a personal lawsuit against those who voted against the motion, arguing that they violated Knesset regulations.

In late April, three MKs from the Pensioners Party left to join forces with tycoon Arcadi Gaydamak to form the Justice for Pensioners faction.

Sharoni led the move and was followed by MKs Elhanan Glazer and Sara Marom Shalev.

Those who opposed the motion called it an attempt by Gaydamak to buy off Knesset members.

Meretz MK Zahava Gal-On said during the Knesset hearing on Wednesday that "This is the long arm of the underworld that's trying to buy MKs."

Labor MK Shelly Yachimovich said, "The agreement is the most blatantly criminal deal I have ever seen."

MK Sharoni said the faction had "betrayed the pensioners," adding that he had seen the Pensioners Party as "the home of Israel's pensioners, but unfortunately this house changed for the worse before my eyes and the eyes of my friends in the past year: principles are no longer principles." Sharoni called Gaydamak "the leading and outstanding social leader in Israel."

The signed agreement with Gaydamak would give the three breakaway lawmakers a parliamentary future and perhaps even a ministerial one, if Gaydamak realizes his plan to become, as he put it, "a significant force" in the next Knesset.