New opposition leader Shaul Mofaz on Monday called on the government to cancel the excise tax on water and to lower taxes on gasoline and electricity.

Speaking at a special Knesset session where he assumed the title of opposition leader, Mofaz said that lowering and canceling those taxes "will have a direct impact on the public's ability to deal with the cost of living."

Mofaz also addressed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's handling of the Iranian nuclear issue, accusing the government of "talking a lot but doing little."

The more senior politicians in the Knesset, he said, remember very well the strike on Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981. "There would have never been a public discussion" before ordering that operation, Mofaz said.

Those using Israel's security cynically to their benefit should stop, he accused, saying the current government is using public discussions of national security issues to prevent discussion on social issues.

Speaking earlier at a Kadima faction meeting, Mofaz said he will seek control of the Knesset Economics Committee.

Kadima needs control of the committee, he said, in order "to deal with economic issues [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu has been unable to handle."

Under his leadership, Mofaz declared, Kadima will present an alternative budget to Netanyahu's. By doing so, he said the party will help advance the socioeconomic protest movement.

The new Kadima chairman also dispelled speculation that he would consider joining the Netanyahu government. "Everything we do is to replace the Netanyahu government," he emphasized, "We are the alternative to the disconnected government."

Kadima under his leadership, he explained, "will be a statesmanlike opposition." The party will support the prime minister when it agrees with him but will oppose him in "everything he does wrong."

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