Kadima members ready to rejoin coalition in exchange for ministerial posts

Returning MKs promise to vote with Netanyahu on upcoming draft legislation and 2013 budget

Less than a week after Kadima voted to leave the governing coalition, a group led by former MK Tzachi Hanegbi is defecting from the party and rejoining Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

In exchange, the prime minister is offering up ministerial posts, so long as the returning MKs promise to support his party’s proposed draft legislation and the 2013 budget.

Hanegbi, for his recruitment efforts, will receive the post of Home Front Defense Minister, Channel 2 news reported Sunday. Hanegbi cannot serve in the Knesset for several years after being found guilty of acts involving moral turpitude.

Late Sunday night, Kadima MK Avraham Duan was offered the post of deputy social affairs minister and MK Arie Bibi accepted a promotion to deputy internal security minister, as most members of the centrist party began to break away. MK Yulia Shamalov-Berkovich will serve as deputy minister of communications, reported Ynet.

Two other Kadima MKs — Otniel Schneller and Nino Abesadze — were reportedly also rejoining the coalition, according to Israel Radio. MKs Jacob Edery and Rachel Adatto were contemplating a similar move.

Seven MKs must leave Kadima and rejoin the coalition in order to ratify the separation under Knesset rules.

Kadima responded to the ministerial appointments harshly, calling them “corrupt political bribery” in a statement.

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to buy votes to pass his shameful universal draft law via trivial positions in his bloated government,” the party stated.

Israel’s second-largest political coalition in history disintegrated last week a mere 70 days after its formation, as Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz announced his party’s break from the Likud-led government over the issue of universal enlistment to the IDF.

Netanyahu presumably wants Kadima MKs to jump ship in order to get the necessary number of votes in the Knesset to pass his party’s conscription bill, currently being worked on by Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon. That proposed legislation would grant ultra-Orthodox Jews the right to defer service until the age of 26.

An unnamed Knesset member told Ynet that the split was “a realistic scenario.”

“Mofaz made many mistakes since being elected. The final straw was his conduct around the Plesner committee and his failure to appoint experienced politicians on behalf of Kadima to conduct the negotiations with the Likud,” the legislator said, referring to Kadima’s attempt to push through its own universal draft legislation, which was a prerequisite for the party joining Netanyahu’s coalition in May.

“The real problem of Kadima is the factional splits, which are manifold and acute,” added the Knesset member.

“There is great unrest in the faction,” another MK said.

Kadima was formed in 2005 by centrist members of the Likud and dovish Labor party with the purpose of pushing the Gaza disengagement through the Knesset.

The party took 28 Knesset seats in the last election in 2009, but polls show it would drop to the low teens, at best, were elections held now.


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