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Kadmia, which means "forward" in Hebrew, was formed in November 2005 by Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, following his resignation from the Likud. Kadima was born out of the opinion of its founder, Ariel Sharon, after he refused to accept the Likud decision to refrain from the unilateral disengagement from Gush Katif. The reason for the establishment of the Kadima party was the attempt to escape the demagoguery of the right-wing camp and head toward the direction of political sobriety. Initially Kadima was Ariel Sharon, and Kadima lacked institutions and a platform. As a centrist party, Kadima gave genuine expression to the desires, positions and interests of the Israeli middle class.

In bolting from the Likud and creating Kadima, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was responding to a public need. Both Labor and the Likud lost many voters to Kadima. As an avowed centrist party, neither left nor right, Kadima turned the absence of an ideology into an ideology and the lack of a backbone into the advantage of constant flexibility. Kadima's supporters were fed up with the present situation and voted by default for an alternative that represented both change and the lesser of the lesser of evils, without really knowing where it would lead.

In November 2005 Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's new Kadima party released the main points of its national agenda - preserving a Jewish majority in exchange for territorial concessions, keeping Jerusalem and large settlement blocs, and establishing a demilitarized Palestinian state devoid of terror. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who announced these points at the party's second faction meeting in the Knesset, presented the list she had drafted to her 17 MK colleagues. "The Israeli nation has a national and historic right to the whole of Israel," the draft said. "However, in order to maintain a Jewish majority, we must give up part of the Land of Israel to maintain a Jewish and democratic state." The draft also said that the national agenda will be the road map, and that the process to end the conflict and achieve two states for two nations will be carried out in stages: dismantling terror organizations, collecting firearms, implementing security reforms in the Palestinian Authority, and preventing incitement. The Kadima platform also will propose a change in the government's system. While these changes are taking place, legislative proposals will be made to increase the MKs' commitment to enable the public's bypassing central committees and vote contractors. Kadima MKs who had quit the Likud said this would bring an end to the tyranny of the Likud Central Committee.

On 18 December 2005 Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was hospitalized after suffering a stroke. The prime minister's sudden health troubles came as he began a grueling election campaign, seeking a third term as the nation head to the polls on 28 March 2006. Sharon was unexpectedly incapacitated in January 2006 due to a severe stroke and leadership of Kadima shifted to Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The political jockeying surrounding the evident political departure of the man who was by far the most dominant figure in the national life has proceeded with surprising restraint and orderliness. The senior figures who joined Sharon in Kadima quickly consolidated around Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, rather than launching a race for the leadership of the party. The public was willing to give Kadima without Sharon a chance, but this willingness would dissipate quickly if it cannot act as a coherent party that is working together to elect its leader on a clear platform.

Olmert led the Kadima party to its first electoral victory on March 28, and was able to form a coalition with Labor and several smaller parties. The new government was sworn in on May 4, 2006. Within a few years, Kadima was plagued by defeat in war, failed negotiations to release abductees and captives, negligent indifference to the economic crisis, surging corruption, the suspicion of severe criminal offenses, and a Prime Minister and Finance Minister as prima facie criminals.Following the attorney general opening a series of corruption investigations, Olmert resigned in September 2008.

Kadima's distinction from the Likud was vital for the former's continued independent existence and to its being a future alternative for national leadership. In October, President Peres asked deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Tzippi Livni to form a new government. Livni's business strategy is, therefore to sharpen the differences between her and Netanyahu as much as possible and stress and deepen what separates her party from his. When Livni was unable to secure a governing majority, President Peres called for new elections to occur in February 2009. Even though Kadima, led by Tzippi Livni won more seats than any other single party, right-of-center parties, both religious and secular, had the largest overall gains in the new Knesset. Subsequently, President Peres asked Likud-leader Netanyahu to form a government. Netanyahu was sworn in as Prime Minister for the second time on March 31, 2009.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:52:20 ZULU