JERUSALEM (JTA) – At least half of the Kadima party’s lawmakers are negotiating a move to the Likud party, Israeli media are reporting.
Kadima’s second-in-command, Shaul Mofaz, accused party Chairwoman and Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni of lack of leadership, leading to the possible defections.
During an emergency meeting Thursday afternoon between Mofaz and Livni at the party leader’s Tel Aviv home, Mofaz urged her to call for primary elections to select a new party leader.
"Kadima is falling apart. I recommended to the Kadima chair how to maintain unity in Kadima," Mofaz said following the meeting, referring to the calling of primaries. "I very much hope that for the first time she listens to others. I hope this way we can get to have leadership that knows how to make the right decisions and lead Kadima to where it has to be."
On Wednesday night, Kadima lawmaker Eli Aflalo announced he would leave the party. He is considering forming his own one-man faction, or could join Likud, according to reports. In an interview with Israel Radio, Aflalo accused Livni of taking Kadima too far to the political left.
At least seven lawmakers must leave together in order to avoid needing Livni’s permission to split off.
The party’s governing council is scheduled to meet Thursday to discuss the possible defections.
Many Kadima lawmakers, including Mofaz, were angry when Livni failed to bring the party into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition.
Opposition lawmakers have criticized Netanyahu for playing politics by meeting with disgruntled Kadima lawmakers in between meetings earlier in the week on the Gilad Shalit situation.
Kadima lawmakers have asked Israel’s Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to investigate whether Netanyahu’s promises of government positions and personal benefits to Kadima defectors to Likud constitute bribery.