Kadima Likely to Quit Coalition on Tuesday, Sources Say

Official party sources refuse to comment, but speculation was rife about a party split or even break up if it leaves the coalition.

Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz may announce his partys quitting the coalition on Tuesday, barring any progress in the talks about the IDF draft law, Kadima sources said Sunday.

Official party sources refused to comment on the matter, but speculation was rife about a party split or even break up if it leaves the coalition.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed optimism about the two parties' ability to hammer out a joint bill. But Kadima sources said "no progress has been made. We submitted various proposals, but have received no satisfactory answers. The ball is in Netanyahu's court."

Mofaz refused to say on Sunday whether he is heading out of the coalition. "We are still facing prolonged negotiations," he said.

Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman said Sunday his party has been permitted to vote for its own draft law, although the cabinet had decided to oppose it. The proposal will be put to the Knesset vote later this week. Meanwhile, Kadima members have been holding talks on the possibility the party would break up.

If Mofaz quits the coalition, seven hawkish MKs are expected to join Likud. There is also talk that a group of MKs who support Tzipi Livni will split Kadima and serve as part of a new center party in the Knesset.

"If the rightist MKs quit the party, Mofaz will remain with a faction in which most MKs do not see him as their leader," a Kadima MK said on Sunday.

"The possibility of Kadima breaking up is very serious," another party MK said. "Mofaz knows he will lose in any outcome."

A number of MKs tried to persuade Mofaz to stay in the coalition.

"It's important for Kadima to stay in the coalition. Next year it can carry out its promises, on condition a constructive solution for the draft law is accepted by both sides," MK Doron Avital said.

On Sunday, Netanyahu sent a conciliatory message to Kadima. "I set up a national government to solve this problem," he said at the Likud faction meeting. "We could easily have gone to elections without solving it. But I thought the national government's goal is to reach an agreed, gradual process [regarding the conscription of ultra-Orthodox men] that would yield a successful result. I hope the major forces in the government, i.e. Likud and Kadima, will
unite to bring about the desired result," he said.

Knesset Speaker MK Reuven Rivlin intends to extend the Knesset session to the beginning of August and even further until an alternative to the Tal Law is found.

"This issue requires a decision and the Knesset can't cut its debates short only because of the recess," Rivlin told the Knesset's plenum Sunday.

"If the cabinet submits a proposal next week, the last week of the session, I will ask the House Committee to approve extending it to complete the discussions," he said. If his request is denied, Rivlin said he would continue the Knesset's last meeting into the recess until the discussions are completed and the bill is passed.

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Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz.
Moti Milrod