Kadima Fumes as Mofaz, Shas Meet Behind Livni's Back

Party official accuses Mofaz of 'damaging coalition talks' by not notifying Livni of Shas meeting.

Senior Kadima officials criticized Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz Tuesday for not coordinating his negotiations with Shas with Kadima chair Tzipi Livni, and for spearheading opposition to a narrow coalition. "Mofaz is damaging coalition talks," an official said. Mofaz was expected to meet with Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef this morning, but the publication of details of the planned meeting, as well as Mofaz's failure to notify Livni about it, led to its postponement by a week.

Today Mofaz will meet with Shas chair Eli Yishai, who is industry, trade and labor minister.

Last night Livni invited Mofaz to a one-on-one meeting today, in order to prevent unrest within Kadima, as opposition grows within the party to a narrow coalition without Shas.

Livni is currently considering forming a coalition with a slim majority of only 60 Knesset members.

Kadima Knesset members considered Mofaz allies, including Otniel Schneller, David Tal and Ze'ev Elkin, said they would work against such a narrow coalition, which they said would be a left-wing government rendering Kadima's existence unnecessary.

Today Livni intends to advance coalition talks with Shas, United Torah Judaism, Meretz and the Pensioners Party. Her goal is to present a coalition on Monday, the first day of the Knesset's winter session.

Opposition to a narrow coalition is also growing within the Pensioners Party.

"Our inclination is that elections are preferable to a narrow coalition of 60 Knesset members," said party chair Rafi Eitan. "It will be impossible to work in such a government."

Meanwhile, coordination between Shas and the Pensioners continues to grow, and this morning Health Minister Yacov Ben Yizri (Pensioners) will meet with Yosef. Yishai is reportedly seeking to form a "social front" in coalition talks with Livni and to destroy her chances of forming a narrow coalition. Senior officials in Labor, the only party to have signed a coalition agreement, are also expressing opposition to a narrow coalition.

"It doesn't seem possible, but if there is such an option we will have to consider it," said Labor faction chair Eitan Cabel.