Kadima

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Kadima (translates Forward) is a political party in Zionist State in Palestine.[1] It became the largest party in the Knesset after the 2006 elections, winning 29 of the 120 seats. The party is currently headed by Tzipi Livni.

Platform

Israel's media reported that Kadima released the main points of its national agenda on November 28, 2005 as presented by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni in a drafted statementreference required:

  • The Israeli nation has a national and historic right to the whole of Israel. However, in order to maintain a Jewish majority, part of the Land of Israel must be given up to maintain a Jewish and democratic state.
  • Israel shall remain a Jewish state and homeland. Jewish majority in Israel will be preserved by territorial concessions to Palestinians.
  • Jerusalem and large settlement blocks in the West Bank will be kept under Israeli control.
  • The Israeli national agenda to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and achieve two states for two nations will be the road map. It will be carried out in stages: dismantling terror organizations, collecting firearms, implementing security reforms in the Palestinian Authority, and preventing incitement. At the end of the process, a demilitarized Palestinian state devoid of terror will be established.
  • Israel's political system will be modified to ensure stability. One possibility to achieve this goal would be to hold primary, regional and personal elections to the Knesset and the Prime Minister's office.
  • Kadima would not rule out a future coalition partnership with any Israeli political party or person.
  • promoting equality for minorities
  • negative income tax and national pension
  • increasing social security benefits and national health insurance
  • civil marriage
  • reform of police

Political objectives and policies

In the early stages, the policies of Kadima directly reflected the views of Ariel Sharon and his stated policies.

Early statements from the Sharon camp reported by the Israeli media claimed that they were setting up a truly "centrist" and "liberal" party. It would appear that Sharon hoped to attract members of the Knesset from other parties and well-known politicians regardless of their prior beliefs provided they accepted Sharon's leadership and are willing to implement a "moderate" political agenda. It is known that Sharon believed strongly in the road map for peace and had a close alliance with then US President George W. Bush.

On the domestic front, Sharon had shown a tendency to agree with his past political partner, the pro-secular and outspokenly anti-religious Shinui party (his allies in the 2003 government), which sought to promote a secular civil agenda as opposed to the strong influence of Israel's Orthodox and Haredi parties. One of the Haredi parties, United Torah Judaism, joined Sharon's last coalition at the same time as the Labour Party, after Shinui had left Sharon's original governing coalition. In the past, Shinui had also called itself a "centrist" party because it rejected both Labour's socialism (its economic policies were free-market) and the Likud's opposition to a Palestinian state (however, from an international context, Shinui may have actually been on the centre-right).

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni reportedly told Israel Army Radio that Kadima intended to help foster the desire for a separate Palestinian state, a move which was applauded by leftist Yossi Beilin.reference required

Sharon was one of the prime architects pushing for the construction of the Israeli West Bank barrier that has been criticized by left-wing Israeli politicians, but was a cornerstone of Sharon's determination to establish Israel's final borders, which he saw himself as uniquely suited to do in the so-called "Final Status" negotiations.

In a November 22 2005 press conference, Sharon also mentioned that he favored withdrawing from untenable Israeli settlements in the West Bank, although he declined to give an actual timeline or specifics for the proposed action.[2]

History

Kadima was formed by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon after he formally left the right-wing Likud party on 21 November 2005, to establish a new party which would grant him the freedom to carry out his policy of unilateral disengagement plan - removing Israeli settlements from Palestinian territory and fixing Israel's borders with a prospective Palestinian state.

The name Kadima, which means "Forward" or "Onward", emerged within the first days of the split and was favored by Sharon. However, it was not immediately adopted, and the party was initially named "National Responsibility" (Hebrew: אחריות לאומית, Ahrayaut Leumit),[3] which was proposed by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and enthusiastically endorsed by Reuven Adler, Sharon's close confidante and strategy adviser. Although "National Responsibility" was regarded as provisional, subsequent tests conducted with focus groups proved it much more popular than Kadima. "National Responsibility" seemed certain to become permanent. Surprisingly, however, it was announced on 24 November 2005 that the party had finally registered under the name Kadima. The title Kadima has symbolic meaning for many Israelis because it is associated with the battle-charge of army officers, suggesting that Sharon may be attempting to highlight his military accomplishments ahead of the March 2006 elections. A common Hebrew word, however, the term Kadima has been ubiquitous in Israeli political rhetoric and is likely not indicative of any specific ideological bias, indeed, it had been used as a name before by early Zionist leader Nathan Birnbaum. Nevertheless, the decision to name the party Kadima was criticised by Shinui leader Yosef Lapid, who remarked that it was too similar to Benito Mussolini's newspaper Avanti (Italian for "Forward").[4]

According to Sharon supporters, on the first day after its founding, Kadima already had nearly 150 members, most of whom were defectors from the Likud Party.[5] Several Knesset members from Labour, Likud, and other parties immediately joined the new party, including cabinet ministers Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni, Meir Sheetrit, Gideon Ezra and Avraham Hirschson. Deputy ministers Ruhama Avraham, Majalli Wahabi, Eli Aflalo, Marina Solodkin, Ze'ev Boim and Yaakov Edri also joined the party, along with Likud MKs Roni Bar-On and Omri Sharon. Former Histadrut chairman Haim Ramon of Labour decided to join the party shortly thereafter.

On November 30, 2005, Shimon Peres quit Labour after more than 60 years with the party, and announced he would help Prime Minister Ariel Sharon pursue peace with the Palestinians. In the immediate aftermath of the illnesses of Ariel Sharon there was speculation that Peres might be chosen to take over as leader of Kadima. One poll suggested the party would win 42 seats in the March 2006 elections with Peres as leader compared to 40 if it were led by Ehud Olmert. Most senior Kadima leaders, however, were former members of Likud and indicated their support for Olmert as Sharon's successor.

Additional background on the party's formation

Prior to Kadima's formation, the political tug-of-war between Ariel Sharon and his right-wing supporters, both within the Likud and outside of it, was an on-going subject of speculation in Israeli politics and in the Israeli media. The expectation that Sharon would quit his own party to form a new party composed of his Likud allies and open the door to politicians from other parties to switch to the new party was dubbed the "big bang" (HaMapatz HaGadol) because it would result in a radical realignment of Israel's political landscape. In a New York Times op-ed article in September 2004, William Safire had written about the coming (and inevitable) "big bang".

Split from Likud

A number of complex factors contributed to Ariel Sharon's split from the Likud. After the official split from the party, Sharon claimed it was a decision made on a single night's thought, but at the press conference announcing the formation of the new party, Sharon adviser and Kadima's new Director General, Avigdor Yitzhaki, accidentally revealed that work on the project had been going on for several months.[6]

Sharon was known for often building complex coalition parties within Israeli politics. Sharon began his political career as an aggressively activist officer in the Israel Defense Forces and protege of David Ben-Gurion. In 1973, Sharon was elected as a member of the Likud when he emerged as an Israeli war hero following the 1967 Six-Day War and in the aftermath of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. From June 1975 to March 1976, after resigning from parliament, Sharon served as special advisor to Labour Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. With the approach of the 1977 elections he established the economically left-leaning Shlomtzion Party, which secured only two Knesset seats, was then rebuffed by Labour, then finally merged with the Herut movement within the Likud. Sharon built the foundations and electoral power of the right-leaning Likud party which, under the leadership of Menachem Begin, became the main governing party of Israel in 1977.

Sharon helped to create the Likud as an amalgam (Likud means "consolidation") of the center-right Liberal Party and the larger Herut party, together with two smaller right-wing parties. Sharon led the Likud from 1999, taking over from Binyamin Netanyahu, becoming Prime Minister of Israel in 2001.

The rise of the Likud represented a maturing phase in the history of Israeli democracy, as power was peacefully transferred from an incumbent political party to the opposition.

After a period of rapidly changing coalition governments, Sharon formed a coalition of his Likud with Labour in December 2004 in order to implement Israel's disengagement plan from the Gaza Strip, without concern for the political backlash from the more extreme right-wingers within the Likud and in other parties that had previously been his strongest supporter base.

Internal opposition within the Likud

In 2005 the implementation of the unilateral disengagement plan exposed enormous rifts inside the Likud and wider society in Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu capitalised on the split within the Likud by aligning himself with the rejectionist faction. While Sharon's popularity grew among the Israeli populace at large, it declined inside the Likud party structure.

Sharon, as leader of the opposition, benefited politically from the outburst of the Al-Aqsa Intifada against Israel in September 2000. He further benefited from the Barak administration's failure to reach "Final Status" agreements with the Palestinians at the Camp David 2000 Summit and Taba summit in January 2001 as well as the following waves of Palestinian suicide bombings that created a general sense of insecurity.

The general disillusionment with the Israeli center-left's policies and the souring of prospects for a negotiated peace with the Palestinians led towards a general rightward political shift, which Sharon and the Likud capitalized upon. Sharon became prime minister in March 2001, defeating Labour's Barak in a landslide victory. The Israeli populace re-elected Sharon again in 2003 in another landslide victory, beating Labour's politically dovish Amram Mitzna.

As Sharon compromised politically by aligning with Labour and other factions in the Knesset, politicians in the far right of the Likud leadership became vocal in opposing a number of his policies, handing him defeats in Knesset votes. As a sign of continued acrimony, they also refused to confirm his nominations of his closest allies to ministerial positions in 2005. This breakdown in party discipline threatened Sharon's grip on governmental policy and forced him to expend political capital on maintaining party unity.

Netanyahu resigned on August 7 2005 as finance minister, saying the government's implementation of the unilateral disengagement plan endangered the safety of Israeli citizens. Sharon was then unable to get approval from the Likud Central Committee for his key ally Ehud Olmert to that position, which was a source of frustration and personal humiliation.

Supporters from the Labour Party

The final stroke was the unexpected ousting of Sharon's ally Shimon Peres, as leader of the Labour Party by the election of left-wing Histadrut union leader Amir Peretz in an internal ballot on 8 November 2005.

Amir Peretz demanded that all Labour Party ministers who served with Sharon and the Likud resign from the unity government and called for dissolution of the 16th Knesset and for new elections in early March 2006, overriding the previously anticipated election date in November 2006.

When all the labour ministers had resigned, Sharon lost his "safety net" of supporters from Labour for the implementation of his political agenda, which included continuing negotiations with the Palestinian Authority for "permanent borders" and a hoped-for final resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

By the end of that same month, Sharon announced the formation of Kadima.

Doubts following Sharon's medical problems

The ramifications of Sharon's close identification with Kadima moved the party in an unexpected direction due to his mounting medical problems, which began only a few weeks after Kadima was formed. First, Sharon was hospitalized on 18 December 2005 after reportedly suffering a minor stroke.[7] This introduced a serious element of uncertainty for Sharon's and Kadima's supporters.

During his hospital stay, Sharon was also diagnosed with a minor hole in his heart and was scheduled to undergo a cardiac catheterization to fill the hole in his atrial septum on January 5, 2006. However, on January 4, 2006, 22:50 Israel Time (GMT +0200) Sharon suffered a massive hemorrhagic stroke, and was evacuated to Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in Jerusalem to undergo brain surgery.

Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert succeeded him as Prime Ministerial candidate. Without Sharon, there was uncertainty about the future of the party. Nevertheless, three polls taken shortly after Sharon's illness showed that Kadima continued to lead its rivals by large margins.[8]. Later polls showed Kadima strengthening its power base further, particularly amongst left wing voters who had opposed Sharon in the past.

On January 16, 2006, party members chose Ehud Olmert as acting chairman for the March elections.[9] Kadima won 29 seats, and Olmert was nominated for the post of Prime Minister.

Membership

Former Likud members

Main article: Likud

Former Labor members

Main article: Labor Party (Israel)

Former members of other parties

Other prominent figures

See also

References

  1. "Special Report with Bret Baier" (TV). Fox News. 11 February 2009. 
  2. PM Sharon: We Are Committed to the Road Map Israel National News, 22 November 2005
  3. 'National Responsibility' name of PM's new party; NRP to protest The Jerusalem Post, 23 November 2005
  4. Shinui headed for oblivion Jerusalem Post, 25 November 2005
  5. Kadima Party Jewish Virtual Library
  6. Adviser reveals PM planned split months ago Ynetnews, 24 November 2005
  7. Israel's Sharon suffers a stroke BBC News, 18 December 2005
  8. Israel's Kadima could win under Olmert Angus Reid, 9 January 2006
  9. Comatose Sharon 'moves eyelids' BBC News, 16 January 2006